Most romantic film #22: Bennie & Joon (1993)

Johnny Depp. Channelling his inner Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.

Plus Mary Stuart Masterson, Aiden Quinn, Julianne Moore, and, delightfully, Oliver Platt, CCH Pounder, and Dan Hedaya in support roles.

This is actually a double love story, where Depp and Masterson are the secondary couple, and Quinn and Moore are the primary couple… although no one ever sees it that way.

And why would you? The “Bennie and Joon” of the title are Quinn and Masterson as Benjamin and Juniper, a brother and sister surviving the recent accidental death of their  parents as well as Joon’s bi-polar condition (never explicitly diagnosed in the film). But Depp steals the show as the silent Sam, a curiously innocent “housekeeper cum caretaker” for Joon won in a poker game among Bennie’s friends (a truly hilarious scene where Bennie and his friends play for things like crescent wrenches and haircuts).

Joon and Sam fall in love, but the question of whether Bennie can let go and trust Joon to live on her own, have a mature relationship (meaning sex) with Sam, and begin his own life with Ruthie (Moore), is constantly in question. The relationship between Bennie and Joon is the central one, where both must grow but Bennie must change the most…

Quinn is delightful as the tense and protective Bennie, Moore is charming as the ex-movie actress known for her scream who finds Bennie attractive, and Masterson is really good as the withdrawn and confused Joon.

Depp shows his physical comedy skills in the best ways and is simply cuter than a bug.


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