Tuesday, March 2, 2010

review: Benny and Joon

This movie is what I would call "darling." And it is. It's more than cute - it is precious.
The story revolves around Benny (Quinn), a man who has been taking care of his mentally ill sister, Joon (Masterson), since their parents were killed in a car accident. Things always border between just fine and complicated for Benny, and everyone is convincing him that putting Joon in a group home would be the best thing for her. In a random twist of fate, one night at a get together of Benny's friends, Joon loses a poker game with a pal of his: What was in the pot? A cousin named Sam (Depp). So, Depp comes to live with the two and things are never the same after.
I don't know if this is a good thing to say or not - I mean, PCwise - but I have always had a soft spot in my heart for stories of people who deal with, or have mental illness or challenges (whatever the current PC term is now) - or simply people that I guess you could call "innocents." (I may not have expressed that very clear - so I would like to point out that in any concievable way I do not mean to ridicule, criticize, demean, or disrespect people like those listed above.)
It is a good, touching story with more than a few lessons to be learned. The acting is supreb; Aidan Quinn is a great medium man, or gobetween guy - and as a side note, my gosh those eyes! Masterson gives a ... understated performance of a person who is dealing with mental illness. There are hints of it here and there, but the great thing is her performance is not mental illness - it's a side factor, which seems appropriate since the character probably sees her mental illness as a side factor to who she is too. Depp is delightful - well the character is delightful, and Depp does a good job playing him. You never quite know how he is mentally. I mean, he is simple (I know, bad word) in a sense because he hasn't exactly had an education, but I can't help but wonder if there is more there or not. Either way, it doesn't matter because he is magic, in a sense. His character has a freedom, and the comic ability of those old greats that he imitates so well. He is also kind, understanding, and free-spirited.
And whoever did the drawings for Masterson in this movie is pretty good - particularly the sketch of Sam sleeping. Incredible.
I'll say it again, all in all, a darling film!
4 out of 5 stars

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