Film review: Benny & Jolene (15)

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WHAT'S ON

Benny & Jolene
(15) 86mins
★★✩✩✩

Filmmaker Jamie Adams seems to have been especially keen to make his debut. He called in favours from friends and pulled together this mumble core micro-budget mockumentary in a matter of days.

He seems pleased to be allowed to play with various lenses and focal lengths and to put some lush Welsh scenery on screen in this festival road movie.

This being his primary concern, he leaves the actors to improv their way through a tale of a boy-girl folk duo, their quest for fame and their fumbling will-they-won't-they romantic dilemmas.

The result is hit-and-miss. Some sequences - such as their interview on ITV's This Morning - are a treat. Others drift aimlessly into nothing. The camera keeps rolling in the hope of capturing a flash of comedy gold that, more often than not, never arrives.

• Also released: Fruitvale Station

Everyone tries a little bit too hard to riff but saying what you see is not observational comedy. It is Catchphrase.

The protagonist is Fresh Meat's winning Charlotte Ritchie who brings upbeat jolly hockey sticks diffidence to the part of Jolene. Her partner in rhyme is Submarine's lustful Craig Roberts who is left hanging without a character.

Awkward moments abound. Indeed, it is a comedy of awkwardness, some felt by the characters on screen, often felt by the audience living through these indulgences.

It is never clear how good or how famous the folk duo are. They seem to top the charts but no-one's ever heard of them. They might not even be folk at all. The classification is based on a lazy Bob Dylan reference that drives a derivative pay-off line.

The singers are ramshackle and naive which is fine. The director is too, which is not.
Giles Broadbent

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