TEN BENNY

2 Stars
Year Released: 1998
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 101 minutes
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A darling at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Ten Benny” is a punchy little crime drama that plays out in the working class shadows of northern New Jersey. First-time filmmaker Eric Bross obviously envisions his tale of redemption, revolving around a wide-eyed Italian American with big plans and even bigger flaws, as his “Mean Streets” opus. In execution, Bross’ effort falls way short of its mark, though the film is pleasantly buoyed by a string of fine performances, most crucially, Adrien Brody as Ray, the mercurial protagonist in question. Ray dabbles as a shoe salesman, but dreams of someday owning his own little bodega and marrying his high-school sweetheart. The plot lurches out with the pedestrian swagger of the American Dream, until Ray decides to jumpstart his future plans by getting in deep to a nefarious loan shark (a wonderfully over-the-top James Moriarty) and embarking on a gambling campaign that rivals the foolish panache of Edward Norton’s lovable loser from “Rounders.” To add further fuel to Bross’ contrived fire of conflict, Ray cheats on his girlfriend and she in turn runs into the arms of one of his buddies. The whole film feels like a staged soap opera set in Palookaville. The title refers to Paul Newman’s 10-B shoe size, and if it weren’t for Brody and Moriarty’s dead-on performances, Bross would be in need of cinematic Odor Eaters.



Posted on December 21, 1998 in Reviews by
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