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Film: Ben X

A Belgian film from 2007 about an teenager with Aspergers syndrome who has some difficulties dealing with the world and is tormented by his classmates. He seeks solace in an MMORPG, ArchLord, where he has a friend, Scarlite. After a particularly nasty bit of bullying, Ben considers suicide.

While not a darling of Dutch-language critics, the film did please the public, won some international prizes, and was the Belgian entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar (it did not get a nomination).

The film was written and directed by Nic Balthazar, a Belgian presenter. It's based on a book and play, Niets was alles wat hij zei, also written by Nic Balthazar. It was based on the story of a Belgian teenager with Aspergers.

Tropes:

  • Adults Are Useless: Played with. Various adults speculate about how there was nothing they could do about Ben although Ben's parents help him with his faked suicide attempt
  • Awesome but Impractical: Arguably, the 'death cross' that Ben constructs later on in the movie. Hint: It doesn't exactly work
  • Based on a True Story: The book was based on the story of a Belgian teenager with ASD unlike Ben, this lad's suicide attempt succeeded.
  • The Bully: The bullies, in this case — Bogaert and Desmet.
  • Dawson Casting: While Ben is in one of his last years of secondary school, the actor playing him, Greg Timmermans, was 27 when the film was shot.
  • Driven to Suicide: He considers this, as the summary might imply. Near the end of the film it's revealed that Ben's got suicide-related books and other end-your-life paraphernalia.
  • Epunymous Title: See Meaningful Rename.
  • From Bad to Worse
  • The Film of the Book
  • Gamer Chick: Scarlite.
  • Happily Ever After
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Ben uses an iPod with loud music to drown out the noises in the street and to keep people from talking to him.
  • Jerk Ass: Bogaert, Desmet... nearly everybody at Ben's school.
    • There are two classmates of Ben's that feel sympathy towards him, but possibly because of his autism or fear of being attacked themselves don't do much to help him (the blond boy who sits next to him does film Ben getting pantsed so Ben can turn the footage over to the authorities, but doesn't come forward himself).
  • Imaginary Friend: In the Scarlite that seemingly meets Ben in person, as it's revealed at the end of the movie
  • Kids Are Cruel: Especially his 'best friends' Bogaert and Desmet.
    • And they've been cruel to Ben since a very young age.
    • "Kids like him don't stand a chance. They're easy prey."
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Scarlite after she pulls him back from jumping in front of a train. Subverted, in that she doesn't actually exist except in his head
  • Meaningful Rename: BenX, when pronounced in Dutch, sounds the like "Ben niks", which means "Am nothing".
  • Mushroom Samba: The two bullies forcefeed Ben a drug (possibly ecstasy) which causes him to hallucinate Scarlite and act uncontrollably manic. It is very much not played for laughs.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Ben crafts a real-life version of Arch Lord's 'death cross', and tries to defend himself against his tormentors when they corner him again and take his cellphone. It doesn't work because he does not actually know how to wield a knife.
  • Newscaster Cameo: The TV newscaster who presents the news on Ben's faked suicide is in fact Wim De Vilder, a real-life TV newscaster for the VRT's main news program.
  • Oh, Crap: Bogaert and Desmet at Ben's funeral after Ben reveals himself to be still alive and shows footage of them and the entire class bullying him.
  • Product Placement: Sort of. ArchLord is a real MMORPG developed by NHN Corporation and Codemasters Online Gaming. It became free-to-play a mere month before the movie's original release in Belgium.
  • The Quiet One: Ben.
  • Tomato Surprise: Ben's online girlfriend Scarlite actually left the train station without recognizing him; the version of her that kept him from killing himself and helped him develop his plan was a hallucination.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The real Scarlite. We last see her looking at Ben after he gets off the train and she stays on. It isn't established whether either she tried to get in contact with him again or he tried to get in contact with her through the game
  • The Woobie: Oh god, Ben.

Asterix and CleopatraBelgian FilmsDaens
Before The Devil Knows You're DeadFilms of 2005 - 2009 Big Man Japan

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