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ben is back

DIRECTOR: peter hedges (dan in real life, the odd life of timothy green)
STARRING: julia roberts, lucas hedges, kathryn newton, and courtney b. vance


REVIEWER: purdie jenkins


Nineteen-year-old Ben Burns unexpectedly returns to his family's suburban home on Christmas Eve. Ben's mom, Holly, is relieved and welcoming but wary of her son's drug addiction. Over a turbulent 24 hours, new truths are revealed, and a mother's undying love gets put to the test as Holly does everything in her power to keep Ben clean.

At Christmas a family comes together for shopping, Church, present wrapping and just enjoying each other’s company, until Ben comes home. Ben is a recovering drug addict and comes home for Christmas, after some negotiation he is allowed to stay for 24 hours. Those ensuing 24 hours put strain on his family, especially his own mother.


Over the period of a day we gain a lot of insight into the Burns family and the relationships they have with each other. Director Peter Hedges, coordinates the family to portray trust, betrayal, caution, unconditional love and weariness over the almost two hour drama. The supporting cast are fantastic, in the little time we spend with them we still managed to gain understanding of their complex relationship with Ben.


Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges work off of each other, a relationship that only a devoted mother and son could have. There is undying persistence of trust and love that Holly has towards her son, she takes the concept of super mum to the next level. Ben is Back might be a drama but you find an urge to yell out at the characters like it is a horror, I even found myself cringing in anticipation.


The film is very raw and real and it leaves a sour taste since you know that there are families dealing with similar situations. But in real life it’s not like a well-lit beautiful cast, it’s even more gritty and deadly. That is perhaps the success of Ben is Back; the truth that it speaks.

Ben is Back speaks raw gritty truth about drug addiction centred around terrific performances from Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges. 


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