Narrative and performance certainly drives The Benefactor.
The three main roles are played by Richard Gere, Theo James and Dakota Fanning, all familiar names to the acting industry. All three played their roles respectively with what they were given, but Gere’s role as Franny was the most complex and probably provided one of the few interesting aspects of the film.
Because of Franny’s involvement in the car accident that killed his two best friends and Olivia’s parents, Franny spends the next five years in a slump trying and failing to treat his wounds through drugs and alcohol. His life gains purpose again when Olivia approaches him and hopes to reconcile. Although Olivia and her husband Luke appreciate his gifts such the purchase of her childhood home or paying off Luke’s loans, the two off them soon feel the strain of Franny’s suffocating relationship.
It isn’t more obvious how old you are until you watch child actress Dakota Fanning play a married and pregnant young woman. Unlike most child actresses, Fanning easily merged the gap between child actress and adult actress with ease and I admire a lot of the work she does. In regard to this, it’s always a tad frustrating when you see actors or actresses confined to their script and only able to work with what they’ve been given.
Olivia had the potential to be more complex, similar to the likes of Franny, but became more of a plot device instead. In my opinion, a veteran actress deserves more than that and I only wish we got to spend more time with her character rather than Franny’s typical behaviour.
Franny may have lost two best friends but Olivia also lost two parents. Her emotional response to the traumatic event is mentioned, but we never really explore it. I doubt she would have dealt with the event unscathed. Maybe a few flashbacks would have been an option and an interesting exploration into the character.
The Benefactor may be lacking in a refined storyline and character development, but there is potential. If only we knew more, rather than just feeling as though the director or writer made assumptions for its audience.
Year: 2016 (DVD / Bluray Release)
Running Time: 93 MIN
Director: Andrew Renzi
Starring: Richard Gere, Dakota Fanning, Theo James, Clarke Peters
Production Studio: Audax Films, Big Shoes Media, Magnolia Entertainment, Soaring Flight Productions, TideRock Media, Treehouse Pictures
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films / Madman Films