BEN IS BACK – Rated R – 1 hr. 43 mins 

MV5BZGY3ZWMyYjEtMDMzYi00NDQyLWE1MWEtMDNmMjRlOGVkNDc3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODAzODU1NDQ@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_

BEN IS BACK – Rated R – 1 hr. 43 mins 

DIRECTOR/WRITER:  Peter Hedges

STARRING:  Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges, Courtney B. Vance

When the Burns families’ eldest son Ben (Lucas Hedges), converges on his family one fateful Christmas Eve, it seems that the only one wishing him home with open arms is Mom Holly (Julia Roberts), since he’s just broken out of rehab, and the rest of the family is lest we say, a little weary of what Ben might do, now that he has returned home…

As Ben tries to navigate being home, while the triggers that set-off his addiction seem to be everywhere, Holly tries to keep Ben on a short leash, hoping to make sure that he doesn’t fall off the wagon, and in hopes too that his return home can be a positive experience for everyone…

But it seems that Ben has other ideas in mind than just hanging with Mom, sending Holly’s life, and her family’s life too, into a state of panic…as they try desperately to locate Ben…before it’s too late…

I give BEN IS BACK a rating between MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN and WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON DVD:  Moving and powerful – BEN IS BACK is one of those films that rips at your heart – especially if you are a mother – and doesn’t let go.  Roberts portrayal this time around as a mother in desperation to save her son, was touching and totally believable, as I as a mother too, could feel her vulnerability and desperation every step of the way, as she attempts to save her son.  Hedges was totally superb ~ as always ~ as for me, his performance was the shining achievement within this film.  But as much as I felt that Roberts and Hedges brought it in the acting of the characters within this film, I also felt that of Director/Writer Peter Hedges missed the mark periodically in the story telling aspects throughout BEN is BACK.  I think part of the issue for me with the storyline, is that I had just experienced Timothy Chalamet and Steve Carell take on addiction and survival on the big screen with BEAUTIFUL BOY, so it felt like too, been here, seen that.  Not to make light of the terrible disease of addiction, and the hundreds of thousands of families that it effects every day in this country, I just felt that BEN IS BACK kind of tried to sugar coat the reality of what life living with an addict is truly all about…and leaving me feeling that this film didn’t end up being a top contender this year, like it could have…thus leaving me to suggest that if you want to take on both of these exceptional performances on the big screen before the award season starts, then by all means, please do so, but if you are thinking that you might want to wait and see BEN IS BACK when it hits on DVD, I think that you will be okay doing that too…in order to experience this film…

Kathy Kaiser