Holly (Julia Roberts) attends a Christmas rehearsal at church with her children. When she comes home, she finds her oldest son Ben waiting for her at her doorstep on Christmas Eve. Ben is released from drug rehab despite Holly not expecting him yet. Ben appears to be entirely free from his addictions, but, Holly does her best around the home to make sure Ben is not tempted to turn back to old habits. Over 24 hours, the family will be challenged, and their lives will be changed forever. Holly will have to do everything in her power to save and protect her whole family.
In 2018 we had two films about parents dealing with their children being addicted to drugs. Beautiful Boy focused on the aspect of fatherhood while Ben Is Back delivers more of a focus on Motherhood.
Naturally, this film is a heavy drama with solid performances from both Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges. As for the characters, I found Holly (Julie Roberts) to be slightly fickle in regards to her opinions and her mood changes frequently throughout the film. Her role never felt consistent. Her relationship with her husband in the movie is also never convincing.
From a filming perspective, there was some disappointing camera work. A tense film full of dramatic moments, it is weakened by poorly shot visuals and camera work which has the frame moving around. Without giving much away, I also found the film’s ending an extreme let down in regards to its final moments as it cuts to a black screen… surely there was more to show in the final scene, but ok. The strongest elements of Ben Is Back is the actual story and the performances that try to carry it. As for romance, I can only pick on the fact it seems based on multiple coincidences. For example, Holly and Ben go shopping, and naturally, they bump into characters from the past who are only there to explain the backstory, and it feels very forced.
Overall, Ben Is Back is a dramatic and tense story with reliable performance. Despite the achievements, the film is let down by shoddy camera work and fickle characters. Simply put, this film could have been so much better. The film’s ending also feels rushed, and ultimately I felt slightly robbed. Either way, I think this a film that many parents will connect with and can relate to.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden