BENNY AND JOLENE
Release Date: 6th June 2014 (Ireland).
Running Length: 88 minutes.
Cast: Craig Roberts, Charlotte Ritchie, Rosamund Hanson, Dolly Wells.
Directed by: Jamie Adams.
Written by: Jamie Adams.
Cinematography: Ryan Owen Eddleston, Luke Jacobs.
Studio: Jolene Films
When improv goes bad.
Benny & Jolene is an example of what happens when improv goes bad. Essentially This is Spinal Tap with the jokes removed, the film is a succession of aimless, improvised sequences, none of which work, yet seem to last for days. Benny (Craig Roberts) and Jolene (Charlotte Ritchie) are a hideously twee folk act who inexplicably find themselves with a no. 1 chart record (is that still a thing?). Benny fancies Jolene. Jolene doesn’t fancy Benny. Rinse, repeat. Jamie Adams’ film is a shambolic mess that appears to be some assembled found footage from an actors’ workshop rather than something that was “written” and “directed.” Dolly Wells and Laura Patch, as Jolene’s lesbian mothers, serve no function whatsoever. They seem to be there for no other reason other than that they were available during production. What we initially presume to be Benny’s social awkwardness may in fact be sheer embarrassment on the part of the usually excellent Craig Roberts. I have home movies of childhood holidays in Cornwall that are funnier, and have a stronger narrative arc. Did I mention that there’s also singing? The whole thing is so toe-curlingly awful that the leather uppers had separated from the soles of my shoes by the time it was over. But unlike 22 Jump Street, the only thing wasted in Benny and Jolene is talent.