You might not have caught Bennett’s Song in cinemas, but as we reflect on the make-up of our families come Christmas time, this indie gem (now on DVD) is a great way to celebrate non-nuclear households, and how family can be something of our own making.
Susan Song (Aphrodite Nikolovski) and Cole Bennett (Harley Wallen) are parents in their mid-forties thrown in to single-parenting for various reasons, sidelining their love lives in favour of looking after their kids. Meeting unexpectedly, the two hit it off, until they realise their family baggage might be more than the other can bear.
Bennett’s Song pays homage to families outside the nuclear model, showing that true ‘family’ is built on a foundation of love, not DNA
Bennett’s Song is reminiscent of Cheaper by the Dozen as it hones in on the mess of family life, and the excitement of finding joy in the midst of it all. Susan and Cole have a Brady-Bunch level of children to look after – a variety of racial backgrounds, some adopted, and some with disabilities – facing all the challenges of being un-average.
Being outside of the Hollywood bubble, Bennett’s Song brings a charming normalcy to Susan and Cole’s relationship; the awkward exchanges as they work out how to date again, and the way their kids handle their parents’ “old people love”, is embarrassingly accurate.
At its heart though, Bennett’s Song pays homage to families outside the nuclear model, showing that true ‘family’ is built on a foundation of love, not DNA.
Watch: Bennett’s Song Trailer
Changing the Stigma Around Atypical Families
Speaking with Laura Bennett, actor Harley Wallen said, “I think we have to change the stigma [when families] don’t have a Mum and a Dad with a boy and a girl. We can look different, we can adopt, we can sometimes take on a kid next door… and we can still love. Love is not a biological thing, [it] can cross all these boundaries of colour and race.”
Moving from Sweden to American himself a number of years ago, Harley understands what it means to build family across cultural divides.
“It’s been really tricky”, Harley said, “because our family is very tight in Sweden. I come from a family that sees each other on a very regular basis… and then landing here and being a little exposed on that side, I was very fortunate to marry a wife who has a bunch of sisters a brother. I’ve found a new family here, and go back and visit mine every other year.”
Bennett’s Song is a refreshing family flick, with a solid example of blending a family well and standing up to people who don’t understand you. It’s out on DVD now, with ‘A Bennett’s Song Holiday’ coming next year.