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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Ben Is Back (2018)

On Christmas Eve, a recovering drug addict (Lucas Hedges) 77 days sober returns home to his family unexpectedly. But the next 24 hours which should have been celebratory turns into a dark descent into hell. Written and directed by Peter Hedges (PIECES OF APRIL). As cinema, far superior to the recent BEAUTIFUL BOY which dealt with similar themes but with a father and son. Here, the boy's relationship with his mother (Julia Roberts) is the focus of the film. But BEN IS BACK has advantage over BEAUTIFUL BOY (which spanned several years) by concentrating on a 24 hour period and going straight to the heart of what drug addiction has done to this family. How far does or should mother love go when you can no longer trust your own flesh and blood? It's a heartbreaking and harrowing film as the son takes his mother on a journey in the life of an addict. Thankfully, director Hedges doesn't simplify it or wrap it up in a neat little package by the film's end. It ends abruptly and we don't know Hedges' fate, if he can be repaired or if the family can put the pieces back together again. This is Hedges' year what with this and BOY ERASED and Roberts gives a beautifully structured performance as a loving mother pushed to the limits of a mother's love. With Courtney B. Vance, Kathryn Newton and David Zaldivar.  

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