Steve Buscemi plays Les Galantine, an angry, lonely New York paparazzo who takes in Toby (pretty boy Michael Pitt), the nicest, cleanest homeless kid in the world, and makes the handy young lad his assistant - only to lose his sweet-natured protege into the very crowds of beautiful people that he photographs. Writer/director DiCillo and Buscemi have created a great character in this Les: hotly jealous of the celebrities who are his bread and butter, and blaming everybody but himself for his misery, he is at once funny, sad, off-putting, and startlingly real. He is a character of tremendous depth and shading. Buscemi is the clear reason to see Delirious, and the movie drags whenever he's not on screen.
In fact, the plot takes an unwelcome turn when Toby rather unbelievably becomes famous himself, and DiCillo takes his focus off of Les to explore the world of the famous and powerful. DiCillo seems to know the gritty side of showbiz life better than the glamorous side, and Pitt still can't hold a movie on his own. My guess is that DiCillo himself is more interested in telling Les's story, but tacked on Toby's rags to riches subplot in order to appeal to a broader audience and inject a rather by-the-books tension as Les, once he loses Toby, starts losing his mind as well.
Delirious is at its best when it explores the complicated relationship between these two hustlers; in many ways, it's a contemporary version of Midnight Cowboy, only with the homoeroticism much more implicit. Actually, I found the film more depressing than funny - mainly because, as a filmmaker, I've worked with a few Les Galantines, born losers who vainly cling to the fringes of an industry that, for whatever reason, they'll never be welcome in. Uneven but not unsatisfying, Delirious is nicely shot, and well worth a look for Buscemi fans.