Ben Is Back (2018) #SundayScreening Movie Review

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Title: Ben is Back (2018)
Director: Peter Hedges
Writer: Peter Hedges
Stars: Julia Roberts,
Lucas Hedges, and
Courtney B. Vance
Genre: Drama
Length: 1 hr. and 43 minutes

Writing: ★★★★★ Cinematography:  ★★★ Story: ★★★★ Acting: ★★★★★ Overall: ★★★★.★ (4.25)


Ben Is Back follows the charming yet troubled Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges), who returns home to his unsuspecting family one fateful Christmas Eve. Ben’s wary mother Holly Burns (Julia Roberts) welcomes her beloved son’s return, but soon learns he is still very much in harm’s way. During the 24 hours that may change their lives forever, Holly must do everything in her power to avoid the family’s downfall.


Lucas Hedges won the award for Best Performance by an Actor 23 and Under at the Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society Awards. I’m actually surprised this movie didn’t bring in more awards.


Writing: ★★★★★ Let me start by admitting that I’ve never suffered with Addiction or known anyone who has, not really. Watching this film, I was moved. The truth in the scenes and the raw openness of the dialogue draws you in rips your heart out. Writer Peter Hedges, who also happened to direct this film, does a wonderful job of telling Lucas’ story. I think the message was powerful and devastating. He doesn’t sugarcoat the pain, deceit, and manipulation involved in an addict’s life.

Cinematography:  ★★★ There was nothing special or different about the cinematography in this film. It wasn’t great… it wasn’t terrible… it just was.

Story: ★★★★ I recently watched ‘Beautiful Boy’ with Steve Carell… another movie about a son who is an addict, only this time it focuses on a father-son relationship. If I had to compare the two movies, I’d say ‘Beautiful Boy’ was more realistic. With that said, I’ve read a number of reviews for ‘Ben Is Back’ stating that the story is unrealistic, the events would never happen, and that Julia’s character would never do the things she does in the film. As a mother, I will say, there is very little I wouldn’t do to help my children.

Acting: ★★★★★ Really, there are only two performances that need to be discussed; Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges because they carried this film. Without them, there wouldn’t be a story.

I’ve always loved Julia Roberts, she gives everything to every roll she takes and with this one… she is raw, exposed, desperate, and unconditionally loving. She gave an outstanding performance and, as a mother, left me in tears.

Lucas Hedges really impressed me with his performance. Sure, he is the director’s son and it probably got him the roll, but I think he held his own. I am not at all surprised that he won an award for this performance. In this brief 24-hour glimpse into his life we are both swept away by his playful nature with his younger siblings and blindsided by the devastating admissions into his past. Hedges does a beautiful job portraying not only the victim but the instigator.   


“You don’t know what you’re doing. I’m not worth it. If you really knew me, you’d be done with me.” ~ Ben Burns

I think the reason I love this quote so much is because it shows just how much someone can fail to see their own self-worth. Ben is convinced he is no good, can do nothing right, and will always fail. But when he says this, he is talking to the one person in the world who will never be able to see him that way, his mother.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

View the Official Trailers Here!

Interview with Julia Roberts on Good Morning America

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