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Benny And Joon (DVD)
Member Name: littlepenguin
Benny And Joon (DVD)
Date: 24/05/10, updated on 24/05/10 (175 review reads)
Advantages: Fab acting, good plot and great characters
Disadvantages: Slightly predictable
The title is a great line from the film!
Can you believe it? Benny and Joon is now 17 years old. That means I was just 2 ½ when it was released! Feel old?
Before today I'd never seen this film, although heard much about its great reputation. But lately, I've been gradually coaxing out past Johnny Depp films from the lovely Amazon (the website, not the rainforest - it's not quite that good a film!) and up cropped Benny and Joon.
Benny and Joon are brother and sister. Benjamin (a few years Juniper's senior) cares for her as she has an undefined mental illness.
Joon's eccentricity is rather exaggerated at the start of the film, with scenes such as the young lady randomly directing traffic whilst wearing a snorkel. I felt this was more of a representation of mental illness than a realistic interpretation.Thankfully though, as the film progresses Joon's crazy behaviour feels much more set in reality, allowing the audience to warm to the character.
The story becomes much more intriguing when Mike (a friend of Benny) wins a bet with Joon. She must look after his cousin, Sam.
Sam's presence introduces a new dynamic to the film. Sam seems to enrich Benny's life and, more importantly, he establishes a genuine connection with Joon.
Meanwhile, Benny is trying and mostly failing to enter into a relationship with Ruthie, due to the great responsibility he feels for Joon.
It is really quite rewarding to watch this film unfold and watch how Joon develops, for better or worse.
As Sam, Johnny Depp has a very sincere and honest quality and portrays his innocence beautifully. His performance is utterly convincing and the relationship between him and Joon is stunning to watch. The pair have a certain childlike naivety that is hard to recreate, but these two pull it off whilst retaining the chemistry Sam and Joon have.
Sam is definitely kooky, but not so much insane which I found helped me to trust in the character. Depp subtly shows Sam's fear and insecurities, but there are also moments of great fun and joy. This is often shown through physical comedy with finely crafted routines that made me laugh out loud.
Overall, an impressive performance that I really cannot fault.
Joon is played by Mary Stuart Masterson, who has a natural beauty, reminiscent of Jennifer Anniston. I did feel she could have got her pearly whites stuck into the role a little more, but I would be lying if I said she was inadequate in anyway.
Like Sam, she has such a youthful, naive nature, but Joon is also mentally ill - though it is constantly questionable as to what extent.
I felt Masterson definitely improved as the film progressed at the content improved. Her determination and pride was played well against her inner struggle, therefore creating an interesting depth to Joon.
Aiden Quinn (who has countless films coming up this year) was perfect for the role of Benny. I definitely understood his inner conflict in making decisions about his Sister's future and was relieved when it all resolved itself at the end.
The most noticeable thing about Aiden Quinn has to be his eyes! He uses these powerful tools to portray emotion, convincingly flicking from friendly and calm to sinisterly livid in less than a heartbeat.
The last noticeable performance from my perspective came from Ruthie - Benny's love interest - played by Julianne Moore.
As a viewer I gave her instant attention from her first scene, where seems different and quietly flirtatious.
The character of Ruthie intertwines with all three of the main roles and we start to see different sides of her, although not all are particularly exciting! But sure, she is certainly right for the part and gives everything that is required of her.
Benny and Ruthie's relationship seems insignificant in comparison to the thrill of Sam and Joon's, but I guess it's not easy to create chemistry from nothing. Maybe the casting director should have found a couple that really worked together...
Something else worthy of a mention was the set of Benny and Joon's house. Someone had clearly spent a long, long time focusing on every tiny detail - from stacks of Joon's paintings to random and weird puppets hanging up. I would have loved to of had a wonder round that house!
The DVD obviously lacks today's standard of picture quality, but I thought it rather charming actually. The film itself is pretty short by today's standards and did manage to hold my attention throughout.
The soundtrack was pretty good, my favourite being the lively 'I'm gonna be (500 miles) by The Proclaimers, which both opened and closed the film.
If you can get past the slightly dull first twenty minutes, where they clumsily go about setting up the circumstances then this is a truly delightful film.
The story is interesting and very well acted, but it perhaps lacks unpredictability or a twist to the tale which would convince me it was worth 5 stars!
I enjoyed this film so much more than I expected and therefore would absolutely recommend it!
Summary: A Rom-Com with a difference