Ben Is Back
Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
Rising star Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea, Lady Bird, Three Billboards; he’s also starring in Boy Erased at VIFF this year) is remarkable here, as the prodigal son returning home for Christmas after a stint in rehab. His mom, Holly (Julia Roberts), couldn’t be happier. But his teenage sister Ivy (Kathryn Newton) and his stepfather Neal (Courtney B. Vance) can’t hide their misgivings—only their prescription drugs, which are quickly removed from the bathroom cabinets and stashed away out of sight. Home may be where the heart is, but it’s also the source of pain, confusion and psychological turmoil. One thing is certain: this will be a Christmas Day to remember.
Writer-director Peter Hedges (who also happens to be Lucas Hedges’ dad) has a track record for probing, funny/sad family dramas like Dan in Real Life, Pieces of April, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green (not forgetting his Academy Award-nominated screenplay for About a Boy). Ben Is Back is very much in that line, an emotionally rich, heartfelt and sometimes hilarious piece, featuring terrific performances from the entire cast and a fine score by Dickon Hinchliffe from Tindersticks.