Saturday, 2 January 2010

Ben X

Tonight I watched "Ben X" which is a movie dealing with Asperger's Syndrome (AS). To say a few things, it is foreign language with English subtitles, and also that it is about someone who really does have AS, this isn't another "Big Bang Theory" where the "aspie" community have outed someone as having AS when they don't. Ben is a teenager who is relentlessly bullied at school, but seeks solace at night in the virtual worlds of on-line computer games. He teams up with a girl who plays the same game as him, his only real friend, and together they hatch a plan for revenge.

The movie shows an excellent knowledge of the subject matter, and as well as the scripted dialogue there are many unspoken, and sometimes fleeting, "moments" that people without an in-depth knowledge of AS would probably miss. Dialogue between Ben and other characters is cleverly filmed to highlight the way someone with AS perceives the world. I was really impressed with the way that not all of the symptoms were verbally rammed down your throat and explained in simple language…much of the film is exceptionally well underplayed.

Ignoring the AS elements for a while, this film has some of the short-comings of Mozart and the Whale in that for those not interested in the subject matter it's really just an "ok" movie. Perhaps even slightly sub-par.

It's also very intense; frequently harrowing, with very dark and desaturated visuals to hammer home the bleakness which never really lets up. The story is also incredibly bleak…don't expect to see an AS sufferer as "geeky and goofy but loveable nonetheless". Also don't expect to see a science genius who just has a few problems getting a girlfriend. No positive spin is ever given to Ben's AS - this movie focuses squarely on depression, loneliness, fear and anxiety.

If you have an interest in AS I'd say this is definitely worth watching. It's distressing but very well made and there are some really beautiful pieces of dialogue and moments that are so incredibly insightful you'll think the film maker has been reading the diary you only wish you could keep.


Adelaide Dupont said...

I would be crying too hard reading the description of this movie. Never mind watching it!

Lynne Soraya writes a good blog about Asperger feelings.

Ken Westmoreland said...

I saw it today - it reminded me of growing up with Asperger's and being bullied. It was so-so as a film, but still worth seeing.