Benny & Jolene (2014) is a film about folk-singing duo Ben (Craig Roberts) and Jo (Charlotte Ritchie) who are attempting to navigate their way through the confusing ins and outs of the music industry as well as finding their place within it.
This film is bursting with familiar comedy faces including the likes of Tom Rosenthal, Dolly Wells and Laura Patch. Rosamund Hanson stars in a role she is well-practiced in: that of a dopey PR girl (note her previous role as Cheryl in Life’s Too Short). Hanson is one of the stars of the show, being the source of the majority of laughs and serving as a real tension-releaser for when the situations the characters find themselves in become a little too exasperating, which is often. Roberts (Submarine) and Ritchie (Fresh Meat, Siblings) are excellent throughout and they just keep getting better; they’re sure to become household names within the next few years if they continue at this pace.
With beautiful lighting and a frequent cut and pasting of narrative, this piece of work is visually pleasing as well as being successful at holding pace. There are definite, and most likely deliberate, imperfections in the smoothness of camera shots which add to the personal feel of the production, making it feel more natural and endearing as a result. I found that many aspects of Benny & Jolene shared similarities with the television series Doll & Em, not least because Dolly Wells stars but also due to the intentional style of awkward-comedy that jars at first but gradually warms and softens.
Though this is probably rare, in the case of Benny & Jolene the plot of the film doesn’t feel as important as the general feel of the whole production. I will probably forget the story in time. Instead, however, this film is valuable as the warm, funny heart-warmer it undeniably is, with sharp writing from Jamie Adams. The competency of the cast shines through both in and around the dialogue, showing an applied understanding of tension and comedic relief. This is a production with true soul.