Ben Is Back

The Plot:

Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges) arrives home on Christmas Eve. Mother Holly (Julia Roberts) is thrilled to see her son.

As Ben tries to charm his siblings, his parents aren’t buying his demeanor. Ben is an addict and the next 24 hours will test this family’s mettle as addiction comes home for the holidays.

Kent’s Take:

“Ben is Back” is a harrowing story offering a sad tale of deception and a mother’s love.

“Beautiful Boy,” another film about addiction showing now, recounts a similar story with a rousing soundtrack, gorgeous scenery and a whisper of the dark side of addiction.

“Ben Is Back” grabs viewers, leading them smack dab into the painful, distressing raw areas of addiction. We never see the drug use, instead, we discover the lengths to which an addict, will go in order to get a fix.

At the same time, Ben’s mom finds that she really doesn’t know the son she raised, but a mother’s love steels her to look, listen and never give up.

Writer/Director Peter Hedges (“Pieces of April,” “Dan In Real Life,” “About A Boy”) creates a window into addiction through a mother’s eyes and takes place over a 24-hour period. The emotional gauntlet that Holly runs is stressful and mirrors the emotional progression of many families facing addiction.

Robert’s Holly wants to welcome home a recovering son, but quickly finds the sick son they sent to rehab mere months ago. Hedge’s Ben is coy and charming, making him an addict in sheep’s clothing. As the story progresses, Ben’s dependency takes a firmer hold on him and triggers his addictive needs.

Discovering Ben’s sordid past, while in the throes of recovery, blankets this film with a deep sadness, for we all know addiction is exploding across this country and families are experiencing this narrative daily.

Although “Ben is Back” is a sobering film showing the daily struggles of addiction, it is also a beautiful homage to the strength of family and a mother’s undying devotion.