★★★★ | Benjamin
Comedian Simon Amstell has directed and written his first film – it’s called Benjamin.
He actually also could’ve called it Simon. Benjamin follows the life of filmmaker Benjamin (played by the charming Colin Morgan). He is a frustrated, self-doubting filmmaker, and is not very optimistic about his latest film – ‘no self.’ He is also not very optimistic about his love life – an ex is very angry at him for writing negatively about him in a film. Benjamin’s best friend is comedian Stephen (Joel Fry), who after ten years on the stand-up scene is almost ready to throw in the towel.
But one day Benjamin’s publicist/friend Billie (Jessica Raine) takes him to a chair opening party (yes, that is what it is called) where Benjamin meets the adorable French Noah (Phénix Brossard). Noah is younger than Benjamin but over time their relationship blossoms. But as Benjamin’s insecurities about relationships, and life, get worse, will he be able to confidently promote his new film while at the same time keep up his crumbling relationship with Noah?
Anstell wrotes scenes for this film from almost every relationship he has ever been in. And lead actor Morgan can actually pass for his younger brother, while Stephen, a comedian, was perhaps modelled on Anstel’s early career.
Benjamin is a great date movie – for both gay and straight couples. It’s charming and original.’ And while it won’t change your world, it’s a great first effort from Anstell – hopefully, he can continue to make more charming movies such as this.
In Cinemas and on Digital 15th March
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.