Ben & Arthur (2002) Review

As Arthur calls the hospital, we meet this guy outside of Victor’s place.

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He walks up to Victor’s door and introduces himself as a detective for the LAPD. Uh oh.

In what is possibly the most amazing display of criminal idiocy, Victor immediately replies, “Yeah, he’s dead,” when the officer asks him if he knows who Ben Sheets is.

“Who told you he was dead?”

“My brother.”

“Mr. Sheets is fine. I just talked with him at the hospital. He’s very much alive.”

Good going, you fucking moron.

The officer asks Victor to go with him downtown for questioning.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the puffy-cheeked look of a man who’s worried about getting fired as opposed to being arrested and charged with attempted murder.

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We then see the officer meet up with the priest (appropriately named Father Raven, apparently) to ask if he thinks Victor is capable of murder. Father Raven denies it, shaking his head, but says that his brother has “unwholesome thoughts.” With no more useful info, the officer leaves.

Arthur, what’re you doin’?

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Well, for some reason, he’s hopping the fence to the outside of Victor’s apartment building, which he doesn’t really need to do as we saw him and the officer just fucking walk right up to his door from the street earlier.

He breaks into Victor’s apartment using a paperclip, displaying lock picking skills we never knew he had.

Victor catches him in the place, and Arthur demands to know who he hired to have Ben killed, only to have a gun pointed in his face.

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Victor tells Arthur repeatedly to get out after saying he should’ve killed him, opening his mouth wider each time he says “out.” So, Arthur does, getting back in his car, planning to burn the church down.

After Victor calls Father Raven yet again and he tells him he’ll get yet another guy named Scotty to take care of Ben and Arthur once and for all (how many hitmen go to this church?), Arthur shows up in Father’s office pretending to be some guy from the congregation named Milton.

After complimenting the priest on his service, our cunning hero pours chloroform on a cloth under the table,

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apprehends Father Raven

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and lays him on the floor.

Then he runs out to his car to retrieve gasoline, in the most delicate manner possible.

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It’s literally one little gallon of clear liquid which he pours on the priest.

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He makes faces while fumbling with the matches, like this is just a mild nuisance in a harmless plan.

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We see him just drop it on the ground in front of him, no flame igniting, screams or anything, and he runs out and drives away.

So, our hero just became a flat-out murderer.

At his apartment, he contemplates what he’s done while fondling a ball that isn’t Ben’s.

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He then gets a call from the hospital and brings Ben back home, but he’s still a little weak. Awww.

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He puts him to bed and takes care of him.

Around this time, Victor shows up with hitman #2,

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even though he just winds up going up to the door to do the deed himself.

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He rings the doorbell, and while Arthur’s in the shower, Ben answers it.

It turns out to be his last mistake. This face says everything.

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We hear a gunshot accompanied by Victor’s grimace,

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and much double-vision dying ensues.

Arthur walks out of the bathroom, and it’s time to finally mourn the loss of a great man.

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Arthur lets out a good tearless weep, but Victor has no sympathy. “I saved his soul,” he reasons, the callous representation of a pitiless religious organization.

He corners Arthur in the bedroom.

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He then, of course, chloroforms him.

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These two should probably be known as the Chloroform Bros. at this point.

I also just noticed that Victor has a wedding ring. That’s, um, that’s just for show, right? I mean we haven’t seen him with anything but dogs, cats, and Stan throughout this whole film. Perhaps this will remain a permanent mystery.

While Arthur is unconscious, we get more of that repetitive “will you accept the Lord Jesus Christ” begging that isn’t at all old and grating at this point.

We definitely know Victor means business now, if we didn’t before.

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Then, with 7 minutes left in this film, things have time to get a little weird when Victor demands Arthur remove all of his clothes at gunpoint, because that’s what people do when baptized. Then he forces him into the bathroom.

I don’t know about you, but I was hoping to see more of Mraovich nude in this film.

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So, he literally cups water from the faucet in his hands and splashes it on Arthur’s face, saying all of that “I christen you in the name of the father” stuff. Oh, this isn’t ridiculous at all. Serious bathtub baptism business here.

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Then he forces him back on his bed and chloroforms him again.

As Victor sits outside of Arthur’s room, patiently waiting for all of the demons to leave his soul, I guess, Arthur somehow awakes and confronts his brother.

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Arthur begins to… feel himself up in front of his brother??

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“Is this what you want?” Arthur asks seductively.

Victor tells him to put his clothes back on, but his face says he’s got something else in mind.

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“You can’t stand having Ben touch me,” Arthur suggests. “So you wanna touch me.” He walks forward. “You wanna fuck me don’t you, Victor?”

He points the gun at Victor, saying, “Here I am,” and this has officially turned into an homage of the incestuous temptation scene from the end of Scarface.

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Sam Mraovich is much hotter than Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, if you ask me. That receding hairline, that chubby frame, mmmm. He’s turning me gay just looking at that slab of hunk.

To get back on track here and wrap this up, Victor tries to convince Arthur not to kill him for a number of reasons: 1.) Arthur will go to prison, 2.) he won’t be able to collect on his life insurance policy, and can you guess 3? Yep, he’ll be condemned by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately for Victor, life insurance policies, and all that is holy, he gets it anyway.

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Sam managed to get a prop gun that actually produces smoke, too. Impressive.

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Unlike Tony Montana’s sister in Scarface, who gets inadvertently killed by hitmen going after Tony, this film decides to be original and it’s Victor who grabs his own gun and condemns Arthur to death.

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Just when you think Arthur’s gonna give up, he grabs his gun on the couch, turns around, and gives Victor a dose of head lead.

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He stands for a moment, and we get some strange closeups of his bloodied head, and then he collapses, and it’s all over for him.

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Too bad this film doesn’t have a happy ending, as the closing shot of the film is simply Arthur lying dead, a dreadful synth note complementing it as we fade to black for one final time. I can’t help but let my eyes leak, Arthur was just such a lovable character.

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Just in case you forgot, this was

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And just look at all that Mraovich in the credits!

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Yes, this film is quite magical, and it got me crying by the end as I contemplated how far we’ve come in paving the way for gay rights and acceptance since all the way back in 2002. This film will forever serve as an archive documenting the struggles that many gay couples have faced, in one of the most compelling and original narratives ever filmed. And to add the question of whether any of the characters are actually human brings another struggle: the struggle for alien life to understand the perils of Earth’s social stigmas.

I don’t know what Sam Mraovich’s next project will be, but this film makes Brokeback Mountain look like it was filmed during amateur hour, and I can only hope that he makes a swift return to romantic dramas. I give this film a teary-eyed 5/5 horribly amazing stars, for sure.

You can purchase your very own copy of Ben & Arthur over at Amazon. Or you can watch the entire thing for free on YouTube.

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