Benny & Joon (1993)

PRAISEworthy for the atypical splendor of Berman and McNeil’s writing and Depp’s performance. Satisfying for many reasons, but largely because of the grilled cheese sandwiches.

Regan Humphrey

Benny Pearl (Aidan Quinn) is keeper to his sister, Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson), an artist struggling with mental illness. After an episode of Joon’s psychosis involves the police, Benny is forced to consider whether Joon might be better off in a group home. Before he can decide, a lost game of poker results in Sam (Johnny Depp), a friend’s cousin, coming to live with them. As Joon and Sam fall in love, it becomes clear that a salve for Joon’s agitation might be less supervision, not more.

REF SCORE: 65%

Soundtrack: 70%
Story: 100%
Writing: 80%
Diversity: 100%
Daring: 100%
Racism: COMBATTED — 70%
Gender Bias: ABSENT — 0%
Homophobia: ABSENT — 0%

SUMMARY
Johnny Depp shines as Sam, the kind, keen, and illiterate second-coming of Buster Keaton. Mary Stuart Masterson’s portrayal of a woman struggling with mental illness is benign and harrowing in equal measure, not unlike the experience of psychosis.

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