Benny and Joon follows the titular siblings as practical Benny (Aidan Quinn) cares for his mentally ill, but artistically talented sister Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson). Along the way, through a particularly strange poker game, they meet the quirky Sam (Johnny Depp) who agrees to help care for Joon as the new housekeeper. As Sam and Joon’s relationship deepens, they find an understanding in each other that blossoms into romance.
Modeling himself after the silent film star Buster Keaton, Sam definitely has a weird vibe to him but at his core he’s so incredibly charming. These were of course the days before Johnny Depp totally lost his shit and so he was still a favorite in America’s heart. I miss these days. Also, just an aisde, but Johnny Depp was so insanely hot back in the day can we please take a moment to appreciate this. Also the Buster Keaton look works…doesn’t make sense, but let’s bring it back fellas.
At its core it’s a problematic story. An outsider begins to court the mentally ill woman who won him in a poker game. He’s odd, but she displays real moments of mental illness that transcend just being quirky, and it could read as him taking advantage of her. However the way this film is presented, it’s so whimsical and genuinely heartwarming that it doesn’t feel weird at all. Their relationship builds and has a real genuine feel to it that it comes across sweet.
The real pivotal relationship in question however are those presented in the title; Benny and Joon. They have a complicated relationship as Joon has a lot of needs, and Benny feels his life is being held back for always having to care for her. However, there isn’t any resentment in their relationship and you feel like he would truly do anything for his sister. Even as he begins to find some romance himself, his sister always comes first. He, Sam, and Joon make an odd group, but they all deeply care for each other and want what’s best for Joon, even when her illness gets out of control. They all understand and love each other and it’s really quite sweet. The ending in particular always makes me smile, but of course you have to watch to see.
Definitely a weird movie, that takes an interesting new look at romanticism, but still a sweet little flick that’ll beg you not to love it, knowing full well you will.
Amy’s Recommendation: 9/10