Letting Love In
“Benjamin” is a bleak and hilarious look into the mind of director Simon Amstell.
Colin Morgan is Benjamin in this charming metropolitan. He is a filmmaker who is about to release the belated follow-up to a promising first film. He is trapped by his drollery, but he isn’t alone. His best friend Stephen (Joel Fry) is a flailing comedian whose joking-not-joking shtick is getting tiring, even for him. These are young creatives trapped by their obsessive over-thinking and irony and the angst ultimately is played out as an inability to fully commit to a relationship.
A young French music student named Noah (Phénix Brossard) sings dreamy acoustic pop with emotional lyrics. Not much happens, but a heck of a lot almost does, as director Amstell’s script flirts with melodrama, hints at depth and then runs across the road to do something else.
The cinematography by David Pimm shows London in a beautiful setting with plush flats, trendy locales and summery light are mixed in with the night buses and corner shop. The acting is uniformly excellent.
“Benjamin” finds it almost impossible to escape its own self-awareness, opting for irony while still striving for sentiment. We see what can be achieved once the anxiety of influence has been overcome.
Benjamin’s private life gives him self-doubts especially after meeting Noah at a gig.
Their romance would run smoothly, if only Benjamin would let it. They are both cute guys and seem to be made for each other. Ben is wracked with self-doubt about his worth after a two-year relationship went wrong. As we might expect, his ex turns up just at the wrong moment, and that moment is when Ben is meeting Noah’s parents . Director Amstell manages to make the satire and the romance fresh and funny and affecting.
The film wrestles with the anxiety caused by the release of Benjamin’s second film and his fears that he may be unable to experience love.
Director Amstell fills the story with hilariously deadpan one-liners and a scene-stealing cast. It is a heartfelt laugh-a-plenty love story with lots of bite.