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August 11, 2008 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

Ben X

Directed by Nic Balthazar

Okay. Let’s begin by saying that during Ben X I found out that my eyeliner is better quality than I thought, because it didn’t run everywhere.

Ben (Greg Timmermans, also a total hottie) is a troubled child. Eventually diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, after running the gamut of psychological and physical testing, Ben has enormous difficulty simply getting through the day. Unsurprisingly, he is bullied incessantly at school. And, as his mother explains, “Someone always has to die.”

Ben’s way of dealing with this will be familiar to many introverted high school boys: by immersing himself in online videogames. Playing the MMORPG ArchLord, Ben becomes the legendary warrior Ben X. “I’m level 80. If you don’t know what that means, it’s high. It means I’m respected in the game world.” Together with his healer Scarlite, they have triumphed over the most difficult challenges the game world can present, in sharp contrast to Ben’s experience in real life, where he has no friends (or real understanding of what ‘friendship means’) and takes to recording people with his video camera so he can copy their actions. Because of this, Ben has come to see the world in terms of the virtual reality he prefers, as the frequent cutscenes from the game remind us.

The storyline in

Timmermans performance is truly amazing. The character of Ben is complex enough that you pretty much expect the actor to fail. But not only is he completely believable, the torture he expresses as Ben is enough to bring a tear to the eye of a staunch flatmate (in case a crying emo kid isn’t enough. And it probably isn’t).

The cinematography is truly beautiful. You know how it’s a standard filmic convention to show what someone is daydreaming about by showing their dream superimposed over reality? In Ben X, there is an amazing shot with the game world in the foreground, with the real Ben tucked away on the side of the screen. And you realise: to Ben, this is what is real.


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