DIR/WRI/PRO: Jamie Adams • ED: Sara Jones • DOP: Ryan Owen Eddleston, Luke Jacobs • DES: Russell Barnes • MUS: Ashley Adams, Andy Lovegrove, Nico Tatarowicz • CAST: Craig Roberts, Rosamund Hanson, Dolly Wells
The titular one-hit wonder duo act Benny and Jolene just barely hold our attentions past their 15min fame mark in Jamie Adam’s similarly hit and miss mockumentary.
Craig Roberts and Charlotte Ritchie, of Submarine and Fresh Meat fame, make for an endearing coupling but there’s little mystery to be had in the ‘will they, won’t they’ stakes as they’re wonderfully one and the same from the get go. The opening scene, an ill-fated interview and song slot on ITV’s This Morning, reveals neither of them have the gift of gab or any other gifts for that matter as they blindly strum guitars and struggle to lip synch their self-penned single.
Benny’s lyrics are from the heart and Jolene is his muse but the prospect of a fast track to fame corrupts them both and attracts a host of clueless opportunists destined to drag them into obscurity. This is where the story tends to fall flat, the chuckles are all Benny and Jolene’s but the deserted album launch and tension heavy recording session, that make up a lot of the ensemble scenes, are marred by bland improvisations by minor characters.
There is comedic chemistry between the leads, especially when Jolene attempts to arouse some inspiration of her own by putting the moves on Benny so that she can note every facet of their foreplay for a steamy synth-heavy second single, but by the time the team hit the road (in a camper van tour bus no less) any hopes of more one-on-one misadventures are dashed.
The proximity of the road trip inevitably brings them together but when bad reviews of the album catch up with them it saps their reserves of false confidence and tantrums ensue. For a moment the film redeems itself and you can’t help but feel sorry for Benny and Jolene in the middle of nowhere desperately out of their element until of course you’re reminded that the comedy is more worryingly so.
A five-day shoot and a largely improvised script is a commendable effort and there are laughs to be had they’re just few and far between and both stars seem underutilised unfortunately. Sadly Spinal Tap this is not.
Benny and Jolene is released on 13th June 2014