#REVIEW: “BEN IS BACK”
Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
Peter Hedges (About a Boy, Pieces of April) has both written and directed some classics, but Ben is Back may be the most affecting of his work yet.
Holly Burns (Julia Robert) and her children return home from an outing to see Ben (Lucas Hedges) back on Christmas Eve after a stint in rehab for the past eight months. Not everyone is excited about his return, namely Ben’s stepfather Neal (Courtney B. Vance) as Christmas has not always been a joyous occasion due to Ben’s troubled past. Through it all, Holly refuses to give up on him, even if this means lying to her family and risking their lives.
Ben is Back is led by the power of outstanding performances from Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges. Hedges who usually is exceptional, embodies what it means to struggle with addiction and make better for himself, and in turning we feel the emotional weight he has on the people around him. The Film however belongs to Roberts. She is more than just a mother trying to protect her child, she is a woman on a mission to bring her troubled family together at great cost.
The writing in this Movie feels deeply-personal. What makes Ben is Back different than other stories we see about addiction, is its conscious choice to head a different direction and focus on Ben trying to better himself in a different way and what his battle means for his family. We understand completely the Film’s timing for a Holiday release and it is essential Holiday viewing.
Elevation Pictures release BEN IS BACK Friday, December 14, 2018.