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Film Editorial

benjamin19.jpg Benjamin

Director: Simon Amstell

Stars: Colin Morgan, Phénix Brossard, Jessica Raine, Joel Fry, Jack Rowan, Anna Chancellor

Writer-comedian Simon Amstell’s debut feature plays like a mumblecore take on Woody Allen’s ‘Manhattan’ relocated to hipster Hoxton. Morgan is the titular character (and presumably Amstell surrogate), a rising filmmaker whose first picture was a commercial success, but whose second, an autobiographical romance, is proving harder to complete. He is single, his boyfriend having broken up with him after he slept with his leading man, and his one visible friend is crestfallen comic Stephen (Fry). His life is thrown into turmoil when his PR woman Debbie (Raine) introduces him to a French singer Noah (Brossard), and an uncertain romance follows. Morgan is an appealing enough presence to rise above his sketchy character, a stock emotionally constipated and entitled manchild (the lazy go-to for indie directors), while Amstell wittily cocks a snook at the shallow media scene, the preposterous happenings, and the blithely dismissive attitude of industry insiders. Raine steals every scene she’s in and gives the film some much needed oomph as the heroically self-absorbed Debbie.