September 18, 2021

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‘Benjamin’ Review: A polite, witty, very British gay romantic comedy

4 min read

“Benjamin” is the opening of a film in the midst of a long-awaited sophomore feature of ThierrySomething Irish director Benjamin Oliver (Colin Morgan), whose one-time betting career has slowed to a buzz. The scene we are shown looks quite promising: the argument of the absolutely so-called lovers between the two, who played Benjamin himself, clearly explained the struggles of his existence with the idea of ​​his romance. Entitled “No Self”, the film proved to be a semi-autobiographical account of the director’s gay dating problem in modern London; The same is true of Benjamin, written and directed by self-styled British comedian Simon Amstel. This double creates a mirror-of-mirror effect: Amstel sees himself in his protagonist, who in turn wants to see himself clearly again.

In the final edit, Benjamin draws his film and forges the story of a simple relationship with a Buddhist monk, unrelated spiritual noodles – to the frustration of a once-pro-critic and his non-prolific producer (Anna Chancellor). Amstel, happily, does no such thing: appealing restrained and perfectly shaped in less than 90 minutes, “Benjamin” retains his soft prickly intellect and sweet-sweet-intimacy, its symbolic nomenclature brings the protagonist to the brink of self-realization. , No Pat Plititudes or minus learning lessons. Without counting his 2013 inspired vegan-themed documentary “Carnage” for the BBC’s iPlayer streaming service, this is Amstel’s debut feature: he will have his own high expectations for next time.

When asked what his apparently ruined new film is about, Benjamin offers the kind of line that frustrates his glee, the responsible preacher Billy (Jessica Raine, a gin-sharp pleasure): “It’s a movie about my love disability.” Not a lift pitch that will hurt an investor’s interest, it’s worse than a small talk with a pretty new guy. Yet this is exactly how the dazzling red flag held Benjamin when he met a young French musician, Noah (Phoenix Brosard), who looks like he’s moved away from a St. Laurent ad, but whose inner humor doesn’t match his glamorous exterior. (Benjamin, a friend jokes, likes his lovers to be “weak and strong”, although he deserves much the same description.) Despite the age difference of almost a decade, Benjamin and Noah are awkward in a plant: if they can be soul mates. They shyly stop talking to themselves and get closer to each other.

In this subtle aspect, “Benjamin” has a much warmer feeling, sometimes acidic humor. The film can be termed as a romantic joke, although they will not have the willpower তারা they are dynamic which usually makes the genre feel next to the point here. Thanks to Brosard’s dignified, fragile performance, as Noah cheats, it’s Benjamin’s shaky relationship with himself that gives Amstel’s script its subtle pull.

As a case study of everyday frustration, Benjamin can divide the audience just as much as he divides the people around him. Some would be completely sympathetic when he unexpectedly advised Noah to try to be a “righteous man,” while others echoed the impatient impatience in the eyes of his producer: “What is all this? Pain Are you inside Are you really in pain Yet both camps may want to applaud when Benjamin finally calls his solicitation the most emphatically: acting as his most ex-boyfriend in a glittering single scene, unnecessarily-laced, Nathan Stuart-Jarrett but he leaves scratch marks because he scratches. Warned that he too would probably be thrown out.

Originally in a film, but not in vain, busy in itself, that scene is a memorable reminder of the insecurity of those who have been harmed by injustice. Amstel does not exaggerate his onscreen arrogance, nor does it show Morgan’s beautiful shady performance, which shows how Benjamin’s anxious sweetness and Will-O-the Whisp delusion can emerge as the British crowd in the wrong crowd or in the wrong light. Not so much the photographer David Pimm whose visually pleasing, soothing compositions paint a strangely comforting cut of a shaky Victorian studio apartment in London with a low-slung jerk or just a medium shift in the palette.

Amstel can draw an interested self-portrait in its debut feature, but anyone who has dated around the slumped warehouse events and pop-up dumpling bars of the London-named hipster scene can spot a lot of it. It goes for feeling dead in the film’s affection, navigating through the night bus clutter, or talking about the annoying social etiquette of the city of Amstel, where a simple invitation to dinner is not met with acceptance or denial, but a strange, surprising question whose answer is actually No one knows: “What do you mean?”

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