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Benny & Joon 1993 ***

Johnny Depp’s fondness of the silent-film comedy of Buster Keaton fuelled the elaborate train-climax of The Lone Ranger, but there’s plenty of nascent affection on show in Jeremiah Chechik’s 1993 comedy drama. Joon (Mary Stuart Masterton) is a mentally unstable girl who falls head over heels with Benny (Depp), a young man obsessed with Keaton’s comedy. Chechik’s film is adorned with delightful touches, like the use of a household iron as a hotplate, that give it the same offbeat appeal as Depp’s celebrated What’[s Eating Gilbert Grape?, but Benny & Joon as a comic energy and a romantic pathos of its own; not loving, but learning how to love is the theme, nicely handled by Depp in one of his best early roles. The Proclaimers hit 500 Miles sets the off-centre tone from the opening credits.

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