- Peter Hedges (writer/director from Pieces of April – 2003) has his handheld, sort of verité style, with plenty of room for great work by Julia Roberts and his real life son, Lucas Hedges
- Lucas Hedges plays Ben, the son of Roberts, a recovering drug addict. There’s a web of lying (by Roberts character as well).
- Lucas Hedges downplays some of the drug addition tropes and clichés and that’s refreshing. He is a fine actor and that confidence comes through. There’s more meat on the bone for Julia Roberts and her full range of emotions are on display.
- Ben is Back (a terrible title) uses the one-day in the life, cousin of Cleo From 5 to 7 or Good Time narrative timeframe structure, and that works. Hedges has chosen Christmas Eve to ratchet up the tension and immediacy even more (Pieces of April was also about a family in fracture during the holidays- Thanksgiving)
- A great frame of Roberts outside the golden pawn shop at night.
- The film isn’t overly visually inventive- but there’s a quick shot of Roberts at dawn with snow on the lake as the backdrop—and the final shot and imagine is very impressive (above). The sun peeking through the barn
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 2018
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