Lincoln Bloom (Shayne Gray), the protagonist of The Delta, is a middle-class white teenager growing up near Memphis. He has a girlfriend, Monica (Rachel Zan Huss), a group of friends, and spends his days living as a typical straight teenager, driving around aimlessly, smoking pot, and drinking beer. However, he secretly also goes to seedy gay bars and cruising areas where he has casual sex with older strangers.
While doing this, he meets Minh, or John (Thang Chan). John is an immigrant and the son of a Vietnamese woman and an African-American soldier, and gets by as a hustler in the slums of Memphis. Because of his mixed race and his homosexuality, John was always a social pariah in Vietnam, and continues to be in the Vietnamese community he lives in in Memphis. John boldly and directly tells Lincoln that he loves him, and the two begin a relationship. They take Lincoln’s father’s boat, go for a ride down the Mississippi, and illegally set off some fireworks. When the police come they run, and John opens up about his feelings of hatred for his father. The film finally culminates with John murdering a black john as a sort of substitute for his father, as Lincoln grows distant from him and returns to his old double-life.
“No less striking than Gus Van Sant’s debut Mala Noche, this low-budget first feature by the assistant director of Longtime Companion offers a completely fresh perspective on life in Memphis, Tennessee.”
“A study of the impingement of raucously contemporary issues on a traditional setting, here, Memphis, Tennesse, Sachs’s hometown.”
— Dennis Grunes
“Sachs has created in The Delta an achingly poignant portrait of alienation and longing so evocative that it is poetic in its impact.”
— Kevin Thomas, LA Times
Did You Know?
The shooting of The Delta was plagued with problems, mainly due to the same intolerance it depicts in the Memphis community. Finding a local actor willing to play a gay part was difficult, and when director Ira Sachs finally found one, he backed out shortly before filming was set to begin. Someone notified the police that they believed Sachs’ film was child pornography, and he was questioned by police. Fortunately, the film did overcome these obstacles and had a successful premier at the Toronto Film Festival. Review our Gay Themed Films Here