Mars Horodyski's Ben's At Home was one of the nicer surprises of this winter's Canadian Film Festival. It's a small, thoughtful character study that shows that a good story can be told with minimal resources.

At the age of 30, heartbroken sad sack Ben (Dan Abramovici) has decided to abandon the larger world and become a shut-in. People can visit - and maybe even sleep over - but Ben won't be going anywhere.

He sees it as a conscious, self-actualizing choice; he's not sliding into depression but actively embracing his isolation. And if you believe Ben, it's not such a bad life. Who wouldn't want to play video games all day and hang around with a cool dog like he does? But a life in splendid isolation requires a supply chain, and Ben soon finds himself falling for Jess (Jessica Embro), the nice woman who delivers his dinners.

The stakes are low and the conflicts modest. Will Ben smarten up before his brother's wedding? Abramovici, who co-wrote the script with Horodyski, plays Ben as a wounded soul who's embracing the wrong idea for the right reasons, and Embro is appealing without tipping over into Impossible Love Interest territory.

It's nicely observed, and at just 70 minutes doesn't overstay its welcome. Plus, cool dog.

Opens Friday (May 15) at the Carlton Cinemas. See listings.

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