Ben Is Back

2019-01-04 06:30
Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges in a scene from Ben


19 year-old Ben Burns unexpectedly returns home to his family’s suburban home on Christmas Eve morning. Ben’s mother, Holly, is relieved and welcoming but wary of her son staying clean. Over a turbulent 24 hours, new truths are revealed, and a mother's undying love for her son is tested as she does everything in her power to keep him safe.


Not all Christmas films are filled with festive cheer. The holidays also don’t mean the same thing for everyone. In some homes this time of year is filled with painful reminders of heartache.

Ben is Back is just one of those stories. It takes an honest look at the damages caused by substance abuse and the impact of addiction on not just the user but also those closest to them.

The film spans over 24 hours and masterfully depicts the intense struggle of an addict to overcome their demons during the “jolliest” time of the year. 

It also truthfully shows the helplessness that family members can feel when they want to support their loved ones without enabling them to fall back into their addictive habits. 

Lucas Hedges as Ben Burns does an excellent job at portraying a young man who is desperate to overcome his troubles and spend Christmas with his family whilst still hiding deep and dark secrets. 

Hedges’ performance is made even more impactful thanks to the commanding presence of Julia Roberts in the role of Ben’s mother, Holly. The Hollywood veteran effortlessly depicts a mother’s pure desperation to save her son from himself. 

Ben is Back is undoubtedly driven by the powerhouse performances of its stellar cast. 

But although it’s a gripping telling of a heart-breaking tale, it never truly ventures into the darkest of realities faced by addicts. It’s a very clean and unblemished look at a grievous subject matter. 

The film will also face some stiff competition at the box office with the impending release of Beautiful Boy, starring Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carell, in South African cinemas on 11 January. It deals with the exact same subject matter but perhaps in a more mature and skilled way. 

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