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BEN X

Director: NIC BALTHAZAR

BELGIUM-NETHERLANDS • 2007 • subtitled • colour • DIGITAL PRINT • 93 MIN


A GALVANISING PORTRAIT OF AUTISM AND ITS PROFOUND IMPACT ON BOTH THE AUTISTIC PERSON AND THEIR FAMILIES, BEN X BOLDLY MELDS VIRTUAL REALITY WITH LIVE-ACTION DOCUDRAMA TO CREATE WHAT MAY BE A NEW FILM GRAMMAR.
Inspired by actual events and buttressed by strong performances — particularly by newcomer Greg Timmermans in the lead — first-time director Nic Balthazar’s film has not an ounce of fat or histrionics. Rarely has so much emotion and excitement been compressed into 90 minutes of screen time. The film received standing ovations at the Montreal World Film Festival, where it shared the main prize. Ben X is a powerful figure in the videogame world of ArchLord. He is everything that Ben (Timmermans), his teenage creator, is not. When he prepares for technical school, poking ineffectually at his tangled hair with a comb, it’s always the same loser staring back at Ben from the mirror. Alone, Ben can achieve a kind of peace, especially when his online companion Scarlite joins him in battle, but other people are a torment of unpredictability and confusion. School is living hell. The people whom he calls friends are in fact ignorant bullies who have no idea of the havoc they are wreaking. Everyone has a snapping point. Ostensibly, Ben’s is an incident of cyber bullying wherein the victim is not only physically abused but the incident is recorded and then posted on the web. Ben’s real-world response is unsuccessful and he plots his own demise. It’s not until Scarlite (Laura Verlinden) appears in the flesh to point the way — a final stroke of audacity that sets the audience on its perceptive heels — that Ben X can concoct the ultimate end-game. — Denis Seguin, ‘Screen International’.

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