The plot of Ben is Back beings when 19-year-old Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges) unexpectedly returns home to his family's suburban home on Christmas Eve m
The plot of Ben is Back beings when 19-year-old Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges) unexpectedly returns home to his family’s suburban home on Christmas Eve morning. Ben’s mother, Holly (Julia Roberts), is relieved and welcoming but wary of her son staying clean. Over a turbulent 24 hours, new truths are revealed, and a mother’s undying love for her son is tested as she does everything in her power to keep him safe.
What do critics say about Ben is Back?
Ben is Back has an impressive Rotten Tomatoes score of 81 percent, with a critics’ consensus which reads: “Refreshingly understated, Ben Is Back subverts family drama stereotypes – and provides a forum for terrific performances from Lucas Hedges and Julia Roberts.”
Express.co.uk’s Shaun Kitchener gave it three out of five stars and wrote: “While Roberts’ performance ensures our stomachs are doing as many somersaults as Holly’s, when it comes down to the climax and the inevitable question over whether Ben can get through the night in one piece, it’s a little harder to invest.
“We haven’t seen enough of his struggle; we haven’t got to know him enough to really be on the edge of our seats when it matters most.
“The result is a well-performed movie that – come the end credits – leaves you with more a feeling of, ‘oh, OK then’ than anything else.”
WHAT THEY HAD REVIEWS: WHAT DO CRITICS SAY ABOUT THE DRAMA?
Richard Roeper for the Chicago Sun-Times:
Through it all, though, there’s the magnificence of Julia Roberts, and the fine performances from Hedges, Vance and the rest of the cast.
They do great justice to this finely constructed slice of fractured family life.
Moira MacDonald for the Seattle Times:
Roberts… takes hold of this movie like a lamppost in the winter darkness.
Mark Jenkins for the Washington Post:
The tight time frame gives the movie a welcome urgency, but it doesn’t prevent its second half from becoming lurid and melodramatic.
SERENITY REVIEWS: WHAT DO CRITICS SAY ABOUT MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY MOVIE?
Rex Reed for the Observer:
Ben Is Back doesn’t sugar-coat the harsh reality of this family’s struggle, but like the year’s other astringent family drug drama Beautiful Boy, frames it with an abundance of life, love and hope.
Leah Greenblatt for Entertainment Weekly:
Hedges is a flayed nerve, jittery and raw. Roberts may be the true revelation, though: She begs, she bargains, she swears like a teamster.
Christy Lemire for RogerEbert.com:
The performances remain uniformly strong and hold the story together, even as it threatens to spin out of control.
Mara Reinstein for Us Weekly:
It’s been years, plural, since Julia Roberts showcased all her empathetic talents in the right big-screen material. That frustrating streak has come to an end.
ISN’T IT ROMANTIC ON NETFLIX REVIEWS: WHAT DO CRITICS SAY?
Jocelyn Noveck for Associated Press:
Hedges is as excellent as he was in Manchester By the Sea, but it’s fair to say the movie belongs to Roberts.
It’s a career peak, and a performance that deserves to be seen no matter how crowded your holiday moviegoing schedule.
Stephanie Zacharek for TIME Magazine:
The movie is so assertively about the social issue at its heart-the way opioid addiction tears families apart-that it barely leaves room for its characters to breathe.
Linda Holmes for NPR:
The second half becomes more of a crime drama and is far less interesting, but on balance, Roberts and Hedges make it worth seeing.
Ben is Back is out in cinemas on March 15, 2019.