Benjamin: The BRWC Review
‘What’s your film about?’
‘How I’m unable to love.’
So Benjamin blurts to a French singer with whom he may be falling in love – and the fumbling exchange is a neatly self-reflexive logline for the film, too.
Benjamin is Simon Amstell’s self-conscious and semi-autobiographical bittersweet comedy about a neurotic filmmaker stumbling and mumbling through an awkward series of social functions, sexual encounters and cinema screenings.
Colin Morgan (Merlin, Humans) mirrors Amstell as the titular bag of nerves with dark curls, being guided through life by best friend and depressed comedian Stephen (Joel Fry – Game of Thrones, Yesterday) and ‘psychopath’ PR agent Billie (Jessica Raine – Call the Midwife, Fortitude).
We bump into Benjamin as he’s preparing for the premiere of his sophomore film, following his award-winning and critically-acclaimed debut some seven years previous. He’s also navigating a burgeoning new relationship with aforementioned chanteur Noah (Phénix Brossard) while trying to evade his own complexes and confrontations with ex-boyfriends.
Frequently amusing but rarely hilarious, the film is an appealing watch, but is perhaps a little too light and aloof to linger long after. Morgan imbues Amstell’s script with an engaging and uneasy charm, and he’s ably supported by a cast of characters that essentially just represent the various elements of humanity and identity with which Benjamin struggles.
The film occasionally feels more like Amstell’s personal exercise in exploring his own emotions and neuroses than a satisfying story, but there’s enough warmth and wan smiles to make Benjamin a touching tale of love, learning and creativity.
Benjamin will be released on DVD and VOD on 12th August through Verve Pictures.
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