Ben is a bit different and often seems to be living in another universe. While he is a courageous hero in the computer gaming world that consumes him, Ben is tormented by classmates and ignored by apathetic teachers in his... more » daily life. As the bullies relentless attacks push him over the edge and out of control, his online dreamgirl, Scarlite, steps in to help him devise a perfect plan to make them pay for their persecution. Director Nic Balthazar s dazzling debut blends fantasy and harsh social realism to bring us an utterly original and important film.
OFFICIAL ENTRY Belgiums official submission for Best Foreign Film at the 2008 Academy Awards
WINNER Grand Prize, Audience Award for Most Popular Film, Ecumenical Jury Prize for exploration of ethical and social values, Montreal World Film Festival
WINNER FIPRESCI Award, Istanbul Intl Film Festival
WINNER Audience Award and Directors Choice Award, Sedona Intl Film Festival
WINNER Heineken Red Star Award, Palm Springs Intl Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION Berlin Intl Film Festival, Seattle Intl Film Festival, Cleveland Intl Film Festival« less
Although it's not the best made film I've ever seen, Ben X has quite a bit of merit to it. The ideas are interesting; a look that's slightly different than things I've seen before. The symbolism can be a bit cliche and un-subtle at times. The moments that count though, are incredibly heart-breaking, as they're meant to be and in the end, I don't feel like it was a waste buying the movie. As a final though, Greg Timmermans, who plays Ben in the movie, does a fantastic job bringing a lot of subtleties to the role that really bring the character to life.
Intellligent and Moving
Bell Howell | New Mexico | 12/06/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Incredibly smart and moving story of an autistic student in Belgium. He's bullied and hounded nearly to suicide by his classmates before he gets help from a girl and his family. High production values on a tiny budget helped out by a tie-in to a real S.Korean video game. Top notch writing and acting. This gem left the sophisticated audience at the Palm Springs International Film Festival applauding."
The Nightmare - Acceptance
Daniel G. Lebryk | 03/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Descend into the nightmare that autism and mob thinking must be. And accept people that are different as simply being different, not some side show act.
This is director Nic Balthazar's first movie. Let me repeat, this is Nic Balthazar's first movie he has ever made. He is the author of the novel on which this film was based. There are directors that are on their 10th film that haven't yet come close to accomplishing what Balthazar has in this first film.
There is so much to say about this film, and yet little should be said. The film opens with credits over ArchLord, a video game by Codemasters. This is the first time this reviewer has ever seen a computer game depicted so perfectly in film. It turns out the director collaborated closely with Codemasters to get the game perfect. It even includes the occaisional frame drop jump seen all high detail computer video games. The credits are shown in action boxes, clicked on by an accurate gloved hand.
It takes some time to realize that Ben has autism, it's clear something isn't 100% normal about him. The initial clues are snap to extreme close ups of objects that Ben hears and sees. There are scenes of the veins in leaves, hair follicles, and eyes moving. All intercut with blurry views of the rest of the world. The sound is at times deafening. This is the beginning of the descent into, what must be, the nightmare Ben sees every single day. This intercutting technique is not overused and is carried throughout the film.
This film has a unique style that is consistent throughout. Another intercut device is interviews with other characters in the film. The interviews are done face to camera, much like a television show (think of the Office, but these people are not being funny) or documentary. These people are also interviewed after the story has taken place, they are relecting on what has happened. They add a foreboding to the story. A teacher says, "I should have seen this. I should have helped. But what can you do?" These snipits are revealed perfectly through the story.
The key message from this film, people battle with their demons. Ben's demon is autism and people treating him very badly. Instead of staring, we should find ways to accept those people. To not see the differences, just see a person.
Please see this film. It is marvelous. It's not easy to watch. But in the end, you will be very pleased that you did watch this film.
If the MPAA rated this, it's very likely it would R rated. There is no nudity, well except the scene where Ben has his pants pulled down and his naked behind is very visible. There really isn't much harsh language. There is some violence, mostly kids treating Ben badly. There is a fair amount of discussion about suicide. The film in the rest of the world was rated for older than 12, 13, 14, and 15 (pick your country).
In Dutch with English subtitles, which can be turned off. There is no English soundtrack. The English had a wonderful rythmn to it, so I'm assuming the translation is very good.
This is a Film Movements release. These discs are very deep with extras. In many ways, Film Movement is to DVD as to what Critereon was to LaserDisc. They have pushed the envelope for small independent film that matters. And they care about film deeply."
My favorite (of 155 films) at the 2008 Seattle International
A. Ramsey El-moslimany | Seattle | 10/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The 2008 SIFF had a ton of great movies, but Ben X stood above all. Intense and wonderfully constructed, this film takes us into a world of autism and teen age cruelty. Brilliantly told, this film will keep you riveted and uncomfortably squirming from beginning to end."
Daniel B. Clendenin | www.journeywithjesus.net | 05/15/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ben is a deeply disturbed teenager with severe Asbergers Syndrome: "There was always something wrong with me," he says. He's a loner in the real world who loses himself as a gamer in the online virtual world. His teachers are empathetic but stymied. Doctors have their theories but offer no practical help. Ben's distraught parents are beside themselves. Much of the film is about the harassment and humiliation Ben receives at school. When one of these despicable episodes is filmed with a cell phone and uploaded to the internet, Ben plots his "endgame." His online virtual friend, a young girl named Scarlite, insists upon helping him as his "healer." And so they meet in real life and devise their revenge. "Every night you pray to God that things will work out and be OK," laments his father. The improbable end of this film suggests that Ben's "problem" is not so much a problem for him, but a problem for and even caused by others who won't accept him for who he is. "BenX" was Belgium's entry for best foreign film at the 2008 Academy Awards. In Flemish with English subtitles."