Ben X

2007

Ben X (2007)

TOMATOMETER

Critic Consensus: Thoughtful and provocative Dutch film concerned with autism, online gaming and bullying, though loses steam in the final act.

AUDIENCE SCORE


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Movie Info

Mildly autistic, Ben keeps to himself. He spends most of his time immersed in the world of computer games. Picked on mercilessly at school, Ben decides to finally plot his revenge.

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Critic Reviews for Ben X

All Critics (38) | Top Critics (11)

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.

Feb 26, 2009 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

The film is harrowing, if maybe a bit melodramatic, until it crashes and burns in a feel-good ending.

Dec 29, 2008 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

A provocative, exultant stunner.

Dec 5, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The best movie I've seen about teen angst since Donnie Darko comes from Belgium?

Nov 26, 2008 | Full Review…

There's not a moment of warmth or ease in Ben X, Nic Balthazar's punishingly cacophonous debut.

Oct 24, 2008 | Rating: 2.5/5

The best movie I've seen about teen angst since Donnie Darko comes from Belgium?

Oct 22, 2008 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Ben X

This was a very cool movie, with a very unexpected ending...which always is a plus for me. I found it very interesting, and unusual..but in a good way.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

½

To be entirely honest, I was ready to give this film one star, because the tale of the Asperger syndrom kid that gets bullied so much he is considering suicide is really getting on your nerves at times. It's giving you the protagonist's thoughts somewhat unfiltered, and maybe they are accurate as far as that condition goes, but it's a bit much at times. Timmerman's performance isn't always very convincing either. The online gaming fantasy world his character is escaping to is also incorporated into his thoughts and the film, which is rather well done. Bits of interviews with some of the characters commenting on a yet unknown catastrophe interrupt the action, but at least give you a bit of tension about what said tragedy is. Sadly, the film is extremely undecided on what he wants to comment. The syndrome? The bullying, which is taking so much time of the film you sometimes feel like forwarding your tape because it's painful to watch? The suicidal thoughts? The hope in shape of his internet friend? I felt like stopping the film a few times, because it was just too much, and aimlessly so. What saved the film after all was the final twist, or two actually, and the fact that Sigur Ros had a song in it. Anyone intrigued by the basic premise can certainly have a look, but it's not the easiest movie to watch. At least you don't feel cheated of your time in the end.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

½

A well constructed film about a boy with autism that escapes into a popular RPG to escape harsh reality. The film's messages are obvious, but mostly handled with care. It does go a bit too dark and then a bit too light for my tastes. The first hour had me angered and intrigued, but the last 30 minutes are a bit too schmaltzy and light. It doesn't completely gloss over the difficult issues, but the film soon corners itself in a place where no ending would have been satisfactory. A distant but understandable performance from Timmermans makes this an easy watch, and the jumps between life and the computer world are simple and controlled.

Luke Baldock
Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer

Like "Let The Right One In", "Ben X" is another foreign language film about bullies and escapism. Instead of a friendly vampire, Ben X's escape comes in the form of an online, multi-player fantasy game where he is a powerful warrior hero. In the game, he is befriended by a beautiful warrior princess who, somewhere out in cyberspace, has a real life female counterpart. But as great and powerful as he is in the video game world, he is the exact opposite in real life. He suffers from asperger's syndrome, a milder form of autism, and is picked on mercilessly by a couple of bullies (they call him the "mars boy", or martian boy). Because he is so helplessly socially ackward, there's a wall that separates him from the other teens in his school. He only sees the details, the bigger picture of life doesn't register. One day it comes to a head when the bullies put him up onto a desk and de-pants him as other kids in the class capture the video on their cell phones. To his horror, he gets home to find the video is circulating on the internet and being seen by thousands of people. Seeing life through the eyes of his video game character, he begins to think about revenge, and as his mother says, it seems like it won't end until someone dies. Ben X mixes a documentary-style feeling with video game graphics (a menu will sprout up when he's confronted with a choice in his daily life), but it's not the style so much as the substance that draws you in. The message that "bullying is bad" might be simplistic, but it deals openly and honestly with real emotions. It's like an intense, open wound being exposed right in the center of childhood. It's a mighty powerful film.

Devon Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

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