Monday 13 July 2009
Benny and Joon
M and I sat and watched Benny and Joon last night. It is such a lovely film and one of the few that I will watch again and again. I like it because it is a quiet film about people, and there is such a neat interrelationship between the four central characters. Joon is so enchanting but awkwardly introverted, she observes others but doesn't seem to know how to reach out to them. She lives in this safe little cocoon that her brother Benny has created for her, but that also seems to confine her. Benny has made it his life's work to protect her, but has come to be almost dependent on her need for his protection. Then along comes Sam and he upsets their security and creates minor mayhem. In my opinion this is Johnny Depp at his best. He was 30 when it was filmed but comes across much younger, and it is the kind of offbeat character that he seems to play so well. What is so good about the film is that it is not trying to create a fake drama/crisis between the characters; what happens to them is a believable extension of who they are, where they are in their lives and the interaction between them. Too many films merely take characters and make something happen to them to manufacture a storyline, all of which is lazy and makes for singularly unsatisfying films. Because the characters here have real caring relationships the drama is overcome by genuine reactions to the new situation. Benny cares enough about Joon to know he can't hold her hostage to his view of her needs, she must move on and make her own life. It also makes you think that quirky people probably do need other quirky people, that they are more understanding of unconventional behaviours and reactions and would work harder to really understand the other person. I like films that have an insight into human nature in all it's weird incarnations. No-one ever says that either Joon or Sam should try and be more 'normal', the film accepts them as they are and seems to be saying that life should be able to accommodate people however they might chose to be.