Film review: Ben X

Ben_x_poster It is the system that fodders itself on the weak and meek. It is the system that isolates, hunts down, torments those it identifies as unique and somewhat frail. Bex-X is the story of such a torment. Ben, a young Flemish boy suffering from Asperger syndrome (a rare mental condition falling into the high-functioning autism spectrum) is frequently finds himself as the target of the bullies of the school. Almost all his fellow students joins into the act of the torture, augmenting his misery to sky-high. His good performance at school doesn’t help his cause either, generating more envy from his fellows. In spite of the best effort from his mother, his doctors, some of his teachers his life seems to be on a downward spiral.

Ben looks for solace in the world of video games. In the virtual reality, he somehow forges a relation with a girl, but due to his awkwardness loses the single chance he gets to be with her. Commensurate to the tragedy-driven beginning, the film recedes to an end seemingly with the demise of Ben, but a surprise remains left to be revealed and an ending, laden with poetics and poetic justice.

In the end, Ben-X is a film of retribution. How the victim finds his survival instinct, how even the most brittle ones find the strength and means to carry on, and how ugly the true face of the world is: all is woven in the magnificent humane tale of Ben-X.  Instead of the recent trend in European films to mimic Hollywood at its worst, I hope to see more films like Ben-X to be coming out of Europe.



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