A heart-warming drama on maternal love and dedication. This review of Ben Is Back is brought to you by AboutFlick’s Mr T.
Director: Peter Hedges
Review: Ben is Back is a poignant drama about a boy struggling with the challenges of overcoming addiction. Just like Beautiful Boy, the movie focuses on the devastating consequences drug abuse can have on one’s family. Quite apparent from its unimaginative name, Ben is Back details the story of Ben, who returns home to his family from rehab on Christmas Eve. While everyone is unwilling to give him a chance, he finds support in his mother Holly who just wants to get her son back.
Lucas Hedges deftly captures the subtleties of a vulnerable teen on the edge, who has completely lost faith in himself. It’s a heart-breaking moment when neither his sister (Kathryn Newton) nor hi step-father (Courtney Vance) want him back with them. Julia Roberts has previously essayed the role of a protective mother in Wonder (2017), and she is exceptional yet again. Whenever she is on the screen, you get the feeling that the film was essentially made just to showcase her talent.
Unlike Beautiful Boy which released the same year, this film does not rely on flashbacks as a crutch for storytelling, but lacks in cinematography and background score. The first half of Ben is Back works quite well as a heart-warming drama, but loses its plot later on when it attempts to transform into a thriller. It feels contrived, and just plain unnecessary. It nods to complex issues like the opioid epidemic, white privilege and how dependence on drugs can make children an easy target for pedophiles. But the film never feels the need to expand on them and is content just being a treatise on maternal love and dedication.
Rating: My rating for Ben is Back is 3/5.
Who should watch this: Anyone looking for touching dramas or films that deal with addiction. You should also check out Requiem For A Dream (2000), Trainspotting (1996) and Beautiful Boy (2018). Any Julia Roberts fans out there must also watch Wonder (2017) and Homecoming (2018).