Film Review: Benjamin (2018)

Simon Amstell’s bracingly frank and personally inspired Benjamin is a très charmante film

“I think it was… kind of a experiment, you know”

There’s a level of meta-storytelling at the heart of Benjamin that makes you realise that this really is Simon Amstell’s film through and through. An awkward love story between two self-effacing fey artists, surrounded by drolly hilarious media types with bon mots dripping off their lips, you can well imagine that there’s part of him in pretty much all of the key characters.

At the heart of the film in Colin Morgan’s Benjamin, a film-maker who rode high on early success with his debut and now crippled with self-doubt that he hasn’t got the chops to follow it up. And as his work tips towards pretentious nonsense, a self-fulfilling prophecy rolling round, he’s left watching his agent and producer and writing partner and leading man moving on.

His saving grace comes in falling hard for Noah, a young French musician, but as they negotiate the trials of their mutual shyness in the fast-paced world of London’s media scene, can they hack it? Morgan is pitch perfect as Benjamin, beautifully wry in his self-deprecating way and there’s a clear-eyed recognition that adorkable as a personality can get pretty wearing pretty soon.

He’s surrounded by some great supporting performances too. Jessica Raine and Anna Chancellor are scene-stealingly great as the agent and producer respectively, Joel Fry is good fun as the pal and Phénix Brossard’s Noah shimmers with fragility and feeling as you can’t quite figure out whether these guys should be together or not. Ellie Kendrick and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett also excel with single-scene standout work.

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