Ben X (15)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner27/08/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 93 mins

Engaging and occasionally disturbing Belgian drama with strong performances and a thought-provoking script that delivers an important message.

What's it all about?
(Very) loosely based on a true story, Ben X stars Greg Timmermans as Ben, an autistic teenager who's constantly teased and bullied at school. Since neither his divorced parents (Marijke Pinoy and Pol Goossen) nor his teachers seem capable of helping him, Ben retreats into the world of virtual videogame Archlord (think World of Warcraft), where he's an all-conquering hero with a loyal female sidekick named Scarlite (Laura Verlinden).

However, when Scarlite announces that she wants to meet Ben in real life, he feels that his life might finally be about to change. Unfortunately, the school's most vicious bullies (Titus De Voogdt and Maarten Claeyssens) seem determined to make Ben's life a living hell.

The Good
Writer-director Nic Balthazar expertly builds tension, firstly by letting us see just how much the violence of Ben's fantasy world is invading his real life and secondly by including a framing device of documentary-style to-camera interviews that indicate that something bad is going to happen. This works extremely well and you're constantly dreading the worst, though the film has several surprises up its sleeve.

Timmermans is superb as Ben and there's strong support from Verlinden as Scarlite, while De Voogdt and Claeyssens make all too convincing bullies. In addition, Balthazar's thought-provoking script addresses a number of disturbing issues that are all too topical, without resorting to sentimentality or overblown melodramatics.

The Bad
The only problem with the film is that the documentary device doesn't quite work, especially when set against the rest of the film, which is largely from Ben's warped perspective. Similarly, one of the twists is a little too guessable, which detracts from some of the suspense.

Worth seeing?
In short, Ben X is a well made, superbly acted drama with an emotionally engaging script and an important message. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Ben X (15)
Ben X has been reviewed by 1 users
image
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

image
02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

image
03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

image
04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

image
05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 24/10/2017 06:37

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Foxcatcher (15)

Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in this real life inspired story of Olympic talent, fierce competition and murder.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films