Ben X (2007)
Written and Directed by: Nic Balthazar
Starring: Greg Timmermans, Laura Verlinden, Marijke Pinoy, Pol Goossen, Titus De Voogdt, Maarten Claeyssens, Tania Van der Sanden, Cesar De Sutter
Saw this at the Viewfinders Film Festival a couple weeks ago. It's a Belgian film (is 'Belgian' the right word or are you supposed to say 'Flemish' or something?) about a teenager with Asperger's Syndrome who is mercilessly bullied at school and basically lives his favourite online fantasy RP.
The movie mixes the 'real' world with the game world very effectively, allowing for some cool visuals and art direction (it kind of made me miss the days when I used to game all the time - mind you, I played Runescape and that was a bit lower calibre than what dude was playing in this. It was free, though).
The scenes of bullying were horrific, but still very well done - I was homeschooled, so we didn't really have any of that and it kind of freaked me out. Also, the lead actor, Timmermans, was really good as far as I could tell. I mean, I'm not sure how accurately Asperger's was portrayed, although I do know this guy whose brother they think might have it, and parts of this movie kind of reminded me of him.
And there's that foreign language thing (I find that when watching a foreign language film I'm too busy reading the subtitles to judge the actors abilities). Although it was in Dutch which sounds eerily like English and I usually don't have too much trouble understanding.
All the acting seemed to be pretty solid, actually.
The first problem I had with the film was that it really messed with me. It kept trying to make me think stuff (i.e., the guy was dead, the girl was real (spoilers)), just so that the filmmakers could come off as being really clever at the end of the movie. I felt as though I was being manipulated, and it bugged the hell out of me.
I saw right through their plans anyway, I knew basically what was going to happen, so all the screwing around just pissed me off.
Second problem was that it was all morals. It seems that they can't make a film for youth (I hate the word 'youth' when used in that context, it's so PC - I much prefer 'little punks') that doesn't have some kind of message. And they have to bash the little punks over the heads with it.
It's irritating. I guess if you have to put a message in the film 'don't be mean to autistic people' is probably a good one, but it shouldn't be necessary. Anybody who thinks it's fun to do that shit to other people is not going to be swayed by a movie. It's just preaching to the converted, so to speak.
I dunno. The movie really bugged me. But it was kind of worth it for the cool graphics and the acting. And it gave me something to think about other than how annoying The Mist was.