November 05, 2019

Review Ben Is Back (2018)

#BenIsBack (2019): 7/10

Ben Is Back was written and directed by Peter Hedges (‘About A Boy’, ‘Dan In Real Life’), a stars real life son Lucas Hedges (‘Lady Bird’, ‘Manchester By The Sea’) as Ben, a recovering drug addict who returns to his family home unannounced, and given a 24 hour period to prove claims he is ready to rediscover the outside world.

Ben’s young step siblings are just as overjoyed as their mum to see him return on the eve of Christmas. On the other side though are the sceptical stepfather (Courtney B Vance) and sister (Kathryn Newton), who aren’t convinced Ben is there for the right reasons, and has left rehab too early, which only makes us the viewer scrutinise his actions throughout the film even more.

Julia Roberts sells the piece; a sparkling performance of a mother’s unconditional love in the face of almost unwinnable circumstances. Despite her reservations and measures she takes to ensure Ben doesn’t relapse, Holly is never ready to give up on him, even when he appears a lost cause. Hedges gives a brilliantly subtle performance also, remorseful of past actions which have hurt his family but struggling with the unbearable itch bubbling under the surface in the present. Ben also makes it clear to his mother that addicts aren’t to be trusted, a statement that only fuels our suspicions. All in all, it’s a bleak insight into the devastating effects of drug addiction on the user and their family.

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