American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Benny and Joon" is a film that approaches its subjects so gingerly it almost seems afraid to touch them. The story wants to be about love, but is also about madness, and somehow it weaves the two together with a charm that would probably not be quite so easy in real life.
The title characters are two young adults, Benny (Aidan Quinn) and his kid sister, known as Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson). He works to support them. She stays at home and paints, during her good periods, and rages at him, during her bad times. She is schizophrenic, although the screenplay doesn't ever say the word out loud. When she takes her medication and stays calm and things go smoothly, their lives are blessedly uneventful.
One of Benny's few pleasures is a monumental, long-running poker game, at which the stakes are all sorts of things other than money.
One night Joon loses a big bet, and is forced to provide temporary room and board for a strange, goofy relative of one of the other players. This is Sam (Johnny Depp), who is sane but lives in a strange blissful moonscape all his own.