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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Benjamin ****

Starring: Colin Morgan, Anna Chancellor, Phénix Brossard, Joel Fry, Jack Rowan, Jessica Raine Director: Simon Amstell Country: UK In the first feature film from British comedian Simon Amstell, Colin Morgan stars as a movie director in the process of releasing his second movie. Carrying the yoke of the critical success of his debut, his pretentious new piece is a reflection of his past relationship that went sour and is not proving a hit with critics. As he pursues validation from the industry he meets Noah (Brossard) a charming French musician with whom he falls in love and has to face up to his feelings of self-worth. This is indie-filmmaking at its best, American in style but very British in its execution. An angst-filled character piece anchored by a strong performance from Morgan, the dialogue is witty, dry and observational, depicting a version of London that Londoners will recognise. On the one hand ridiculing hipster-culture, on the other existing as painfully hipster in itself, this is a beautiful love story about millennials with feelings told on a delicate scale. The film is at its strongest when it depicts the ludicrous viewpoints of the creative industries, where producers tolerate the whims of actors and artists are bolstered by the compliments of people who seek cultural capital through consumption. Benjamin is a part of this world, but we are positioned with him when he can’t help but laugh at a performance artist rolling on the floor with a large ream of paper. But his own film is just as cringe-worthy, so we see the hypocrisy of the art-world critiquing itself when its own output is so weak. But this isn’t a weak film. The writing is smart, self-aware and subtle, but for a comedian whose output has been so ballsy and sassy in the past, this semi-autobiographical nuance is a whole new angle for the man behind Pop Justice and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. Let’s hope his second feature won’t do the same as Benjamin’s! OUT NOW ON DEMAND.

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