Ben Is Back Review
What’s It About?
A teenage boy, suffering from drug addiction, unexpectedly returns home from rehab during the Christmas break.
Who’s In It?
Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, & more recently Boy Erased)
Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman, Erin Brockovich, & more recently Wonder)
Other notables include:
Courtney B Vance (American Crime Story: The People Vs OJ Simpson, Office Christmas Party, & more recently The Mummy)
Director: Peter Hedges (Dan In Real Life, The Odd Life Of Timothy Green)
Films about drug-addled teenagers causing havoc in their families seem to be addictive. Wait ages for one to come along, and then you get two in as many months.
The first was the Oscar nominated Beautiful Boy starring Steve Carell and the remarkable Timothee Chalamet focusing on the father son dynamic. Ben Is Back however, looks more at the mother and son relationship.
Directed by Peter Hedges, the film sees his real life son, the hugely impressive Lucas Hedges as a teenage who returns home unexpectedly for the Christmas holidays. Unlike most family reunions though, this one is not universally welcomes popular, particularly with Ben’s step-father and sister, as Ben is a drug-addict who has caused some terrible and as yet unspecified trauma to his immediate family as well as his local community.
Ben’s mother on the other hand is conflicted. Overjoyed at his surprise return, she is also anxious about the effect it may have on her family, especially as she has two young children in addition to Ben and his sister, as well as being unsure as to whether Ben is being completely honest with her about his current situation and state of mind.
Foregoing the use of flashbacks, Peter Hedges’ thereby creates a wonderful sense of tension and uncertainty in the film with no one quite sure of Ben’s background and intentions, before the film ultimately moves into slightly unrealistic thriller territory in the final act. Lucas Hedges impresses once again as the drug-addicted teen, following on from his barnstorming performances in films such as Boy Erased, Three Billboards and Manchester By The Sea, and coupled with a truly excellent and heartfelt performance from Julia Roberts as the conflicted mother.
In A Nutshell:
A powerful film with two wonderful central performances along similar lines to Beautiful Boy.
Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges’ superb performances
The final act becomes a little unrealistic