Welcome to The Wright Stuff, our weekly column following the career of Raptors point guard Delon Wright. Since we can’t influence his training or anything on the court, we’ll recommend films that reflect his past week and hopefully inspire a leap forward. It’ll be part film breakdown, part essay, and part whatever loose piece of wisdom we can shake from the experience.
So let’s see: steamroll the Knicks and put up 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, then put down the Hornets and chip in six assists, almost give it up to the Heat before scoring eight 4th quarter points (including back-to-back threes and a lay-up over Dwyane Wade, a mentor) on the way to win, and then annihilate the Bulls and add another 7-and-6. Not bad.
What I’m saying is, Delon Wright deserves a vacation.
In fact, after going 4-0 this week, and with seven wins in a row overall, this entire Raptors squad deserves a break. As of today, they’ve got it. Only Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan (plus Dwane Casey and his staff), will be tasked with any official NBA business for the next week. Everyone else, including Delon, will be free to take the time off. The Raptors don’t play again until the 23rd, which is also not bad.
So where will Delon go? What will he do? The world is his oyster, as they say.
When Vittorio Gassman’s Bruno zooms into the city in Dino Risi’s Il Sorpasso, it’s clear he’s looking for fun and frivolity. If you’ve ever seen Gassman in a film, you know he’s usually filled with a restless energy; the script contains him, sure, but his presence constantly feels like it’s trying to break out of the frame. (I recommend Big Deal on Madonna Street too, if you want a good idea for a Gassman double bill.)
In the film, Bruno fancies himself a man like this too — one who will not be held down by the supposed humdrum aspects of everyday existence, but who strives instead to be larger than life. So he zips into Rome, sees everything closed up due to a holiday, and, on a whim, decides to drag quiet school boy Roberto (Jean-Louis Trintignant) along for what comes next.
And what does that include, you ask? A trip through the Tuscan countryside, a visit with Roberto’s aged family, big dinners with erstwhile business associates, a party on the beach, and an unfortunate reunion with Bruno’s ex-wife and teenaged daughter. Yeah, he conveniently leaves that part out for more than half the film. Turns out Bruno isn’t (or perhaps shouldn’t be) as footloose and fancy-free as he lets on. Though I suppose it comes easy if one is taking a vacation from reality.
Il Sorpasso is a road movie that benefits from not staying in any one place for too long. It’s structured as most (all?) road movies are, around two people whose natural friction drives the conflict. Bruno is all careless action, Roberto is consumed by thought and doubt. The latter wishes he could be more like the former — but as the film unravels, we begin to understand the cost of such a life, and the lies a person has to tell themselves to maintain it.
It’s heady stuff for a vacation.
But still, a break would be good for Wright and the Raptors. They’re 41-16 and now two games up on the Celtics for first place in the conference. If I was a betting man, one given to flights of reckless spending like our friend Bruno, I’d wager the Raptors will lock up the one-seed without much more of a problem. They may even touch 60 wins.
For all of the team’s well-earned confidence, Delon just happens to be more of a Roberto, if we’re being honest. In this context that’s not meant as a criticism. In fact, it’s part of what makes his sudden bursts of extreme talent all the more delightful. For all of Wright’s quiet personality, his game can sometimes be quite loud indeed.
I won’t sugarcoat things here: Il Sorpasso does not end on a happy note. The two men don’t find a solution to what bedevils them; they (almost quite literally) run out of road. Throughout the film both Bruno and Roberto seem stuck looking to the past for answers, even while rolling faster and faster forwards. It’s no way to live a life — even if the sun is shining across the beautiful countryside.
For Delon, it’s all future. It has to be. And while we could worry about it, as is our wont as Raps fans, it’s better to move towards it. So sure, take the break, think about things, get your mind right, but then be ready to spring back into action. Wright’s ending need not be a bad one — he could even make sure to write it himself.