Ben Is Back

Ben Is Back
Ben Is Back
Directed by Peter Hedges
Starring Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges, Kathryn Newton and Courtney B. Vance
In UK Cinemas March 15th, 2019

by Joanna Orland

Ben Is Back is yet another timely story of a young man falling victim to the opioid crisis. Much like January’s release of Beautiful Boy, the film goes beyond the addict to explore how this epidemic affects the family. With excellent performances led by Lucas Hedges as Ben and Julia Roberts as his devout mother Holly, the film may not tread new ground, but it does offer a portrait of a modern tragedy with a complex and emotionally sensitive relationship drama at its core.

Ben has been in rehab for his addiction issues, but manages to breakout to return home for Christmas. Initially welcomed by his mother and two much younger siblings, his teenaged sister Ivy (Kathryn Newton) and stepfather Neal (Courtney B. Vance) are far more skeptical of his motives. Christmas eve unfolds with the best of intentions, but circumstance leads to a bit of a road trip adventure for Ben and Holly; their relationship is thrust into the spotlight as is Ben’s journey through addiction, recovery and the hardships that follow.

It really is the characterisation and performances that carry Ben Is Back, much more than the good but not groundbreaking story. Modern relevance will also play a part in the film’s affectiveness of course, but without Lucas and Julia, Ben Is Back would fall flat. The sensitivity with which both actors portray these characters is very tender, and mesmerizing to watch as they’re on as good form as ever. These are powerhouse actors giving some of their best performances.

For a timely story, well-rounded characters and excellent performances, Ben Is Back ticks all of the boxes. While it may not linger with you long after viewing, the emotion of the moment is quite a powerful thing to observe.



 

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