Yesterday, this column reviewed "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," which stars Johnny Depp and came out in 1993. That same year, Depp also starred in "Benny and Joon," another film in which he plays off an actor playing a mentally-handicapped person.
"Benny and Joon," played by Aiden Quinn and Mary Stuart Masterson, are orphaned siblings. The solid and responsible Benny runs a car repair shop and devotes most of his energy to caring for Joon, who is a gifted painter, but whose symptoms all suggest schizophrenia. After Joon loses a hand in a card game, they are compelled to take in Sam (played by Johnny Depp), a relative of their friend, who is an eccentric film enthusiast. Sam and Joon fall in love, and when they tell Benny, he does not take the news well.
All the performances are great. Aiden Quinn shows that Benny is overly-protective, but he wants to make the best possible life for his sister. Mary Stuart Masterson does a good job showing that Joon is smart, despite her jarring lapses. Johnny Depp is also strong. In several scenes, he embodies silent film stars, such as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. These scenes animate the film and offer hope that Sam's creativity will allow him to take care of Joon. Another great performance is by Julianne Moore, who plays a waitress who gets involved with Benny.
"Benny and Joon" is a strong film for fans of offbeat love stories, as well as anyone in the cast.