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“Ben X” by Nic Balthazar Review

For this essay, I decided to write about the 2007 drama movie “Ben X” by Nic Balthazar. Although remaining largely unknown to the general public, this movie includes topics that are essential for human society to function: acceptance and empathy. I chose to write about this movie out of curiosity for both the author’s approach to blending real and fantasy worlds and the peculiarities of the main character’s trail of thoughts. The unique mix of storytelling and point of view presented to the audience allows viewers to understand the perspective of a person with an otherwise challenging mind structure. In this paper, I will attempt to review Nic Balthazar’s primary idea behind this movie and how he has revealed it.

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Discussion of the Scenario

The movie discusses a challenging topic to review in a correct way that would present a perspective that can be difficult to deliver correctly. I think that the goal of the movie is to make people aware of the internal struggles that some individuals have to live with. The film follows the story of a student who lives with Asperger’s syndrome and has a hard time integrating into society. The primary message of the film is delivered to the audience through an internal monologue of Ben, especially when he plays and envisions his character from ArchLord. Escapism remains one of the recurring themes throughout the movie that cannot be left undiscussed.

The author points out that there is happiness for those who are rejected by society through alternative social connections. Ben’s experiences in the fantasy world where he takes on a role of a “strong and respected” warrior, as he calls himself, vastly differ from his real life.

The way in which the movie intertwines the real world with the fantasies of the main character that are represented by his method for escapism makes it clearer how Ben experiences the world. As the main character exposes his daily routine via in-game jargon through his inner monologue, it becomes clearer that he prefers one life over the other. It is a necessary move, as his thought processes might have been too difficult to explain on-screen otherwise.

Although the tragic events that unfold in Ben’s real life were foreshadowed by his mother and the audience has received the basic idea of his views, the reality kicks hard when Ben enters his school. The careless attacks on the main character from a crowd of students who are supposed to know him for years reveal how such ostracizing might become ordinary. The bullying that Ben experiences drives him to become more and more secluded.

This prominent issue leads to the dramatic ending of the movie, as Ben is shown to struggle with reality. The fact that “Ben X” ends on a bittersweet note that is not an ideal outcome that viewers might have been expecting is a happy ending. While some viewers may be left unsatisfied, I think that this dissatisfaction was the goal of the author, who wanted to encourage action. The film makes me more aware of the pain that people often hide behind the smiling masks of normalcy.

Discussion of the Cinematic Structure

From the very beginning, the visuals present both a real-world interview that foreshadows the events from the film and the recordings of a video game the main character plays. Even when Ben is not near his computer, scenes from ArchLord are played as if he imagines the ongoing events in a parallel universe. This reflection occurs only when the character experiences strong emotions and emphasizes Ben’s unique perspective. Another recurring element among the scenes in “Ben X” is the pieces of the interview that takes place at the end of the movie. These scenes continuously show regret, pain, and anguish that the author intends to reveal as the ultimate outcome of the indifference that permeates human society.

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I believe that camera placement during particular scenes also adds a similar effect to the film, amplifying the intention of the author. Close shots of the panicked Ben correlate with the position of the cameraman among the crowd of students who bully him create a clear opposition between two worlds: the harsh reality and Ben’s inner conflict with it. Moreover, the camera often remains close to Ben’s face to capture his confusion, distress, and, sometimes, wonder.

It is also worth noting that the color scheme of an entire movie is dimmed most of the time. The gray and bleak brown colors dominate the screen, especially when Ben is outside of his house. Bright colors begin to appear only at the very end of the movie, close to the culmination. Moreover, the overall palette appears to be brighter inside Ben’s room and in-game.


In conclusion, “Ben X” is an excellent example of a drama that provokes thoughts as well as emotions and makes viewers look inside themselves for answers. Nic Balthazar presents a plot that is both unique and painfully close to reality for some people. The neglect of societal problems that are highlighted in this movie can cause people to lose both their minds and lives. I think that the author has succeeded at delivering the intended message to the audience through the aforementioned cinematic and plot devices.

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