Tuesday 26 March 2019

Film: 'Ben is Back'

I place this basically two-person drama consider-ably higher than a lot of reviews have, and that was unexpected. If it hadn't been for catching a rare silver screen appearance of Julia Roberts (here using the 'f' word more times than I could have imagined, shocking me to the core!) I'd probably not have bothered. 

She plays mother to a former (or continued?) opioid addict (Lucas Hedges, son of this film's director/writer, Peter H.) who comes home to her on a Christmas Eve without warning, having 'dried out' for 77 days. She's now living with her second husband (Courtney B. Vance) and their two younger children. Although she's overwhelmed to see him again she's extremely suspicious on his claim of having kicked the habit, and insists on his never going out of her sight anywhere - literally anywhere. However as they go around in town together (filmed in upstate New York) it becomes clear that his addict-contacts from the past are all around, both haunting him and wanting revenge for his former misdeeds, or expecting him to 'deliver' the drug as he did before. Roberts' husband, (not her son's father) is very suspicious of his visit and resents his presence, fearing the effect he might have on their solid family life, though she is torn towards her very real allegiance to her son.

It's high drama all the way, edging at times into melodrama, yet ever compelling. Events start to spiral downwards when the family dog is kidnapped and mother and son go on a search, turning into some very bleak locations.

I thought it was a well-judged film, Julia Roberts acting her heart out, not in any way like in one of the 'frothy' but satisfying numbers in which she made her name. And Lucas Hedges (who played the gay 'conversion therapy' victim in the recent 'Boy Erased') convinces highly.  

Very serious throughout with no laughs at all, and dealing with a subject which has become one of the scourges of contemporary America (and, no less alarmingly, beyond), it's a fine early addition to that canon...............7.



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  3. This concludes the trilogy of the 3 "Bs" -teenage boys dealing with some type of abuse. I like this film and I also like Hedges. He does a very good job playing these roles. The one fault that I found with this film is the very abrupt ending.

    Speaking of Hedges, he is still continuing on this path of playing troubled boys. This time, he is dealing with alcohol abuse in a film called "Honey Boy".

    1. I agree on the ending. I wasn't quite sure what happened, or didn't happen - it wasn't clear to me, at least. But I can be more definite in claiming it as a really good film.

      Lucas Hedges clearly has potential. I hadn't realised he's been in so many of films I have seen, his name not registering nor his on-screen presence, but I'll look out for him in future.
      Never heard of 'Honey Boy' and I see it has no release date set for this country (yet?). I'd like to see it - good cast.