By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
In the new movie, “Ben is Back,”
from director Peter Hedges
(“The Good Dinosaur”), Lucas Hedges (“Lady Bird” and “Manchester by the Sea”) plays Ben Burns, a troubled 19-year old trying to shake free of opioid addiction.
Ben got hooked on painkillers after a nasty skateboarding accident. He’s been at a rehab center for several months now and has stayed clean.
Although he still has some time left to serve, Ben decides to leave the facility without permission and head home for the holidays. It’s Christmas and Ben misses his family and that big, comfy house in upstate New York.
However, not everyone is eager to see him. When his mother Holly (a splendid Julia Roberts, “Wonder”) pulls in their driveway with her daughter Ivy (Kathryn Newton, TV’s “Big Little Lies”), they’re stunned to see that Ben is back and waiting for them.
At least Holly is happy to see him. Ivy, well, not so much. She has bad memories of all the hurt and pain that Ben put the family through during his dark days. Ivy wants Ben to leave immediately. Holly is willing to give him a chance to stay for a night or two.
Holly’s husband Neal Beeby (Courtney B. Vance) who is Ivy and Ben’s stepfather, doesn’t want Ben anywhere near the house and especially around his two young kids, Lacey (Mia Fowler, TV’s “Blindspot” and “Pose”) and Liam (Jakari Fraser, TV’s “The Bobby Brown Story”). Besides, Neal says if Ben were a black kid he'd “probably be in prison rather than a halfway house.”
After some heated exchanges, Neal and Holly agree for Ben to stay for a couple of days, but there are strict rules he must follow. The biggest being Holly goes with him everywhere and watches everything he does, including using the bathroom.
Ben reluctantly agrees to the terms. Ivy believes it’s just a matter of hours before Ben will relapse. And wouldn’t you know it. He does. Big time.
Ben gets caught up in a series of stupid and unfortunate events which becomes an absolute nightmare for the family to deal with.
“Ben is Back” is a gripping and timely cautionary tale about the effects of opioid addiction and the great lengths that many families—from all walks of life—are often subjected to while trying to help loved ones suffering from this growing epidemic.
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Take A Look At This Trailer For "BEN IS BACK"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association, The Black Film Critics Circle, The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.