Thanks to Roadshow Films for the chance to see ‘Ben is Back’ before its national release. This is our review of the movie, but as usual, no matter what we say, we still recommend you to go and see it at your local cinema because there is no better critic than yourself!
Ben (Lucas Hedges) is a recovering drug addict who leaves rehab for the weekend to spend Christmas with his family. His mother Holly, (Julia Roberts) is the only one in the family pleased to see him return. The film takes place over twenty-four hours and explores the temptations and danger Ben finds himself in whilst Holly struggles to keep him on the right path.
Director Lucas Hedges, the real life father of Lucas Hedges, succeeds in creating a believable family environment. Julia Roberts gives a powerful performance as Holly. Roberts balances the film’s heavy tone by giving moments of lightness but adds weight and depth in the more harrowing scenes. The experienced actor, Roberts, at the helm navigates through the murky waters of the film’s subject matter.
The one issue with the film is that it tries to cover too many aspects. The second half of the film is unrealistic as drug dealers from Ben’s past begin to threaten his family. The crime drama plot doesn’t fit with the realistic tone that was created in the first half of the film. Ben is Back should have narrowed its focus, to explore the impact of drug abuse on Ben and its knock on effect for his family. If the film solely focussed on this, it would have made for a richer film.
Balancing a realistic story and a crime drama is impossible in a film with a twenty-four hour setting. Neither Ben’s addiction and the devastating effect it has on his family or his life as a drug dealer is explored in enough depth.
Lucas Hedges is excellent as Ben, as audiences are unable to work out his true intentions throughout the film. The dynamic between Hedges and Roberts is believable as the strong bond and love between mother and son comes across onscreen.
Ben is Back is a thought provoking film and challenges audiences to witness the damaging effects of drug addiction on not just the individual but the whole family. The film’s twenty-four-hour time frame is an excellent device as it creates a sense of urgency in the viewing experience.
In Cinemas Now!