From the opening moments, as the graphics of the Archlord online game intercut with the world of Dutch teenager Ben (Greg Timmermans), we know we're in for something special
There is a lot to like about this daring drama but the final act pushes the suspension of disbelief to the extreme.
Greg Timmermans gives an exemplary performance as the title character, making his withdrawn loneliness a palpable thing.
| Original Score: B+
Writer/director Nic Balthazar, adapting his own novel, would fool most as a first time filmmaker, as "Ben X" compellingly pulls one into Ben's world...
| Original Score: B
There are lessons to be learned, but rarely have such lessons been transformed into such vivid and emotionally affecting drama.
In adapting his novel and subsequent stage play, first-time writer-director Nic Balthazar seems more intent on impressing World of Warcraft gamers than honestly exploring the inner life of the mildly autistic boy at the center of his story.
| Original Score: 2/4
This is a movie specially made for viewers who like a surprise ending.
The film is harrowing, if maybe a bit melodramatic, until it crashes and burns in a feel-good ending.
A provocative, exultant stunner.
| Original Score: 4/5
The best movie I've seen about teen angst since Donnie Darko comes from Belgium?
The Flemish dialogue is not the only distinction of Belgian Nic Balthazar's confident, fearless directorial debut.
Undeniably a high-level achievement.
| Original Score: 3/5
There's not a moment of warmth or ease in Ben X, Nic Balthazar's punishingly cacophonous debut.
| Original Score: 2.5/5
The ending is a letdown, as high-tech media mingles with old-school Christian imagery.
| Original Score: 3/6
Balthazar's aesthetic is ugly, aloof, maddeningly literal and unimaginative.
| Original Score: 1.5/4
Ben X boldly melds virtual reality with live-action vérité style and docudrama to create what may be a new film grammar.
There's an especially important central theme to this striking teen drama that gives the film a potent urgency.
In short, Ben X is a well made, superbly acted drama with an emotionally engaging script and an important message. Recommended.
It is based on a successful play and has won festival awards. But its convoluted plot and an ending which we are not sure is real or fantasy prevent it striking home as well as it might.
| Original Score: 2/5