Ben Is Back | Chicago Reader

Ben Is Back

Conspicuously sterile, this opportunistic drama tackles the opioid crisis in white middle-class suburbia. Ben (Lucas Hedges) visits home from rehab; his mother, Holly (a compelling Julia Roberts), is overjoyed, while his sister and stepfather are rightfully suspicious. After Ben's former associates steal the family's beloved pup, he and his mom embark on a journey through his nefarious past to rescue it. Writer-director Peter Hedges (Pieces of April, Dan in Real Life) seems to grasp the seriousness of the crisis, but only insofar as it affects people who look and live like him—a throwaway comment from Holly's black husband about how Ben would be in jail if he weren't white doesn't count for much. The film's didacticism, evidenced in a scene where Holly learns how to use the overdose reversal drug naloxone, is artless if well-intentioned. Anxious handheld camera work presents the illusion of realism, but the film's sentiment is contrived. With Courtney B. Vance and Kathryn Newton.

Credits

Director:

  • Peter Hedges

Cast:

  • Julia Roberts
  • Lucas Hedges
  • Courtney B. Vance
  • Kathryn Newton
  • Rachel Jones
  • David Zaldivar
  • Alexandra Park
  • Michael Esper
  • Tim Guinee
  • Myra Lucretia Taylor
  • Mia Fowler
  • Jakari Fraser
  • Melissa van der Schyff
  • Jocelyn Bioh

Writer:

  • Peter Hedges

Producers:

  • Nina Jacobson
  • Brad Simpson
  • Teddy Schwarzman
  • Peter Hedges
  • Daniel Steinman
  • Micah Green
  • Dan Friedkin
  • Ben Stillman
  • Michael Heimler
  • Jane Evans
  • Mickey Liddell
  • Pete Shilaimon

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