‘Ben Is Back’ Review: Lucas Hedges and Julia Roberts’ Excellent Performances Drive a Raw and Sobering Addiction Drama — Tiff

A more nuanced and sobering addiction drama than some viewers might expect from the man responsible for gentle schmaltz like “Dan in Real Life” and “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” Peter Hedges’ “Ben Is Back” is the kind of white, middlebrow, ruthlessly effective look at the opioid epidemic that might inspire Hollywood to better engage with a crisis that’s become inescapable for the rest of the country.

But the film is more than a wake-up call writ large.

Beneath its overworked plot — and a Julia Roberts performance that toes the line between maternal desperation and movie-screen broadness — this is a tender and knowing story about the salvation that an addict can find within their family, and the toll that addiction can take on it.Addicts constantly lie, but this film does not: Ben is indeed back.

He’s back in snowy Westchester, after a 77-day stint in rehab.

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