Ben's back! Surprisingly, he gives his family his Christmas tree. Especially Mama Holly (Julia Roberts) knows how to understand joy. But something is not right. Ben's sister, Ivy, seems to be more afraid than happy, Holly is hiding drugs throughout the house.
The young man does not come home from the dorm, but from a housing project for substance abusers. He is on the right track, Ben (Lucas Hedges) claims, so the project manager had let him go to Christmas visits. He seems to be in a good mood, raging in the snow with his siblings and playing ukulele.
But the past, and that is the good thing about the gripping drama "Ben Is Back", still lives in the present. It is expected of the shocked behavior of Ivy (Kathryn Newton) and Ben's step-father Neal (Courtney B. Vance), which nightmares must have caused Ben's opiate addiction to his family, through which depth of fear, pain, and anger they have gone with him. "Ben's back" saves the dramaturgical burden of flashbacks to the past. Everything is explained by history now. More smooth than it first works.
In the beginning, "Ben Is Back" is like a classic family drama. The family in question lives well located on the east coast, bulky SUVs and houses with unwieldy number of rooms included. The offspring sing in the church choir, the neighbors decorate their gardens for Christmas, they know each other. The drop is set, now the disaster can come.
Profane root of drug abuse
It also comes – but differently than thought. Because Ben, friendly, open, charismatic, of course belongs here. He does not meet the usual clichés of the drug addict: no ardor puncture, no gaze. This big boy did not rebel against a world of light and crashed.
The root of his drug abuse is much more profane, as the viewer experiences during a shopping mall. There, Ben and Holly meet an older couple, he obviously dislikes, and the so engaging and pleasant Holly hovering in the helpless old man's ear: "I hope you stewed in hell." The man used to be a doctor and gave Ben painkillers after a snowboard accident, an opioid, apparently harmless. As thousands of doctors thousands of Americans.
direction: Peter Hedges
script: Peter Hedges
Starring: Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges, Courtney B. Vance, Kathryn Newton, Mia Fowler, Jakari Fraser, Michael Esper, David Zaldivar, Rachel Bay Jones, Alexandra Park
production: Black Bear Pictures
Rated: from 12 years
length: 103 minutes
start: January 10, 2019
Over 20100 people died of an overdose in the United States in 2017, and hundreds of thousands rely on fentanyl or oxycodone analgesics. It is an epidemic that rages in the middle of society. The addiction keeps Ben still trapped. He must stay 24 hours a day, Holly requires, and he agrees, but he also says, "You don't know me" and "You can't trust me, never."
Of course, it's just a matter of time before his past goes over Ben, and when "Ben Is Back" turns into a nerve-wracking thriller in the last third, and Holly walks through the dark corners of the little town that looks after her son, works the movie finally driven by a cold rage. It is as if he has dramatically thrusting his teeth into the face of this epidemic, which also has to do with reluctant forces in the United States, which have been in high tension for many years.
Hot Oscar candidates
"If Ben was black," said Holly's other husband, Neal, who is black, "he would be in jail now." And Ben himself is convinced: "The government takes care of a shit" and: "If you are bad in this situation, only God can help you."
In "Ben Is Back" director and screenwriter Peter Hedges packs the upset anger about intolerable states in an intense movie drama. Directly and directly, this film has no formalistic gimmicks and exaggerations. Hedges prepares the stage for its two major main players.
In the video: The trailer for "Ben Is Back"
Julia Roberts is currently in high form, following the overwhelming series "Homecoming" (Amazon Prime), she adds her second great look here. And Lucas Hedges ("Manchester By The Sea"), the director's son, once again shows why many in the industry predict a good future for him. No one's age plays sensitive, troubled men as complex as he is. Both are rightly regarded as warm candidates for an Oscar at the ceremony on 24 February for their roles.