Feb. 14, 2023

456: "Benny & Joon" (April 16, 1993)


Benny & Joon tells the story of two siblings, Benny and Joon, and their unique bond. Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Aidan Quinn play the main characters in this whimsical and heartwarming tale.

The performances are a standout aspect of the film. Johnny Depp's portrayal of Sam, a quirky and eccentric young man with a penchant for Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, is both endearing and captivating. His charming and slightly off-kilter performance earned him critical acclaim and helped cement his status as a Hollywood icon. Mary Stuart Masterson is equally impressive as Joon, a young woman struggling with mental illness. Her performance is delicate, nuanced, and full of depth, making Joon a character that is impossible not to root for. Aidan Quinn rounds out the trio with a strong performance as Benny, a protective and loving brother. Oliver Platt is always a welcome sight in any film, and he doesn’t disappoint here either, playing the faithful best friend to Benny.

One of the most impressive aspects is the way it handles mental illness. The film treats Joon's condition with sensitivity and respect without ever reducing her character to a mere diagnosis. The script conveys the challenges of living with a mental illness while celebrating Joon's unique talents and quirks. In this way, it reminds us that people with mental illness are complex individuals with hopes, dreams, and a lot to offer the world.

Of course, a great movie is not complete without a memorable soundtrack, and Benny & Joon does not disappoint in this regard. The film's score, composed by Rachel Portman, is enchanting and playful, perfectly capturing the film's whimsical spirit. Additionally, the soundtrack features some classic songs, including "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers, which has become an enduringly popular tune.

The great Charlie Chaplin once said, "A day without laughter is a day wasted." Benny & Joon is a movie that elicits plenty of laughter and joy. With its charming performances, heartfelt treatment of mental illness, and delightful soundtrack, it is a film that has stood the test of time. As Sam says in the film, "I think it's amazing that people can fall in love with perfect strangers." That sentiment certainly rings true for this movie - "Benny & Joon" is a perfect stranger that we can't help but fall in love with.