Starring: Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges, Kathryn Newton, Courtney B. Vance, Mia Fowler, Alexandra Park (Rated M).
If you’re an admirer of wonderful enriching Julia Roberts such as I am, you will not want to miss another outstanding scintillating powerhouse performance from the Oscar winner.
During Christmas Eve, Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges) returns home to the surprise of his family as they thought he was tucked away within a rehab centre for addiction downfalls. His mother Holly (Julia Roberts) puts on a brave face acting normal on his arrival. However she also knows to immediately clean out her medicine cabinet and gather personal valuables to put in hiding. Ben’s reputation precedes him.
Rushing around in a flurry for Christmas is no surprise but Ben kind of realises he’s in conjecture with the rest of his family, although they put on a happy face. Even venturing up to the attic or entering various rooms of the home sparks up memories of past hidden stashes and drug addled moments of clarity.
Not quite ready for this release just yet, Ben and Holly share beautiful moments along with fresh arguments on struggles regarding respect and failure to communicate. Directed by Peter Hedges, he made one of my favourite indie darlings, Pieces of April (2003). Peter also happens to be the father of star Lucas.
As the film moves into the second half, the vibe rapidly shifts to a thriller as the duo run around town, forced to visit questionable areas and individuals in order to solve an unravelling mystery surrounding Ben. Julia slinks into Holly persona perfectly embellishing the strut of magnificent acting across all levels juggling what is going on at home on this special holiday and overlooking the welfare of the son she thought she actually knew well but is getting to know all over again, the darkness.
Hedges is one of these new young Hollywood crew that has superior talent in everything in which he appears including the recent Boy Erased. Sensational Kathryn Newton (Paranormal Activity, Big LIttle Lies) matches the yearning for on screen talent as Ivy Burns. Australia’s own Alexandra Park propels her limited screen time into a few of the most unforgettable moments throughout the entire film, soaring talent to burn.
Ben is Back is worth seeing for performances alone. Heartbreak will ensure tears may flow while sorting out eye-opening dynamics during the heavy subject matter.
Shane A. Bassett