The holidays are a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate. However, many families don’t have that luxury for a plethora of reasons. In the film Ben Is Back, one such family has been reunited for the holidays, but there is more to the reunion than meets the eye.
Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges) has come home for the holidays. His mother Holly (Julia Roberts) had earlier told him there is nothing she would rather have this Christmas than her son back with the rest of the family. So when that happens, the excitement Holly feels is off the charts. But then she immediately proceeds to hide her pills and jewelry.
Ben has been away in rehab to deal with the effects of his addiction. He claims that his sponsor thought it was a good idea to come home for the holidays. But was it?
The return of her son blinds Holly to the obvious change in behavior of everyone in the family. The other kids and her husband try to temper the excitement, but Holly is all in for the time with her son. It quickly turns difficult for Ben, as his past has not totally abandoned him. Although Ben is back home, is he really back?
As Ben’s mother Holly, Roberts delivers a performance that jumps off the screen like little she has done before, embodying a loving mother who is dealing with the hand she has been dealt. Roberts is able to deftly walk the line between the classic matriarch and one who is continuously punched in the gut by the one child who seems to be getting away from her.
The real star here, though, is Hedges. He is invested in his role as a young man who is trying to move beyond his former struggles but still knows how to push buttons. Hedges switches between capturing the troubled, secretive addict and the loving, truly motivated brother and son with ease.
But as with any case of addiction, the family unit gets beaten down by the chaos surrounding them, and the story, told as it is in this film, is heartbreaking yet real. I found myself enjoying the dynamic displayed on the screen between Hedges and Roberts. Both great actors in their own right, they get the film past some of the hurdles that prevent it from being great.
Ben has returned to his family. His road home is a heartbreaking journey that won’t answer your questions but will show viewers who have similar struggles that they are not alone. There are Bens everywhere, and before they reunite with their loved ones, just make sure that you are ready for the consequences surrounding their return. The road is filled with potholes; it’s the journey to get back and not the actual return that makes it meaningful.
Ben is Back is available on On Demand and DVD beginning March 5. Check your cable system for availability