Written and Directed by Nic Balthazar
Ben X tells the story of a troubled, autistic teenager who seeks refuge from those who torment him in the world of online role playing games. Outside the game, Ben cannot function well in society; however, in the world of ArchLord, he is a mighty champion. Elements from the game begin to bleed into Ben’s life, such as viewing mundane tasks as goal based.
Greg Timmermans’ performance as Ben is outstanding and wows the audience into forgetting they are watching a film. This feeling is punctuated, however, by documentary style interview scenes that function to shed light and foreshadow on ambiguous events in Ben’s life.
Director Nic Balthazar masterfully makes the audience feel comfortable with knowing how the film will end, then throws a kink in the path that drastically changes everything. This is executed in such a way that the audience falls for it again and again.
Other than being an amazing work of cinema, this film sets itself apart in that it is in Flemish. This Germanic language sets a tone for the film that is undoubtedly foreign, but is not too far away to hit home with English-speaking audience.
Featuring an unknown director, an unknown cast, and released from Belgium, this film certainly qualifies as a gem. If you allow it, this film will move you.