Ben is Back is an emotionally gripping drama film that plays out in the same way many conventional thriller movies do. The premise is simple enough, Ben, played by Lucas Hedges, is the junkie son of an innocuous suburban housewife. It’s Christmas Eve morning and seemingly out of nowhere Ben shows up back home from a treatment facility proudly exclaiming that his sponsor had wholeheartedly endorsed his return home for the festive season.
The further the movie continues, the more we begin to doubt Ben’s intentions and wonder if he has ulterior motives in returning home. Ben constantly tells his mom not to trust him and that junkies will always lie. This is the only explicit insight the audience gets into Ben’s psyche throughout the whole movie. The editing and writing of the film masterfully display the ambiguous nature of the character without coming off as obviously our even intentionally obfuscated.
Without being obvious, the film is able to tap into many visceral emotional avenues and sheds a disturbing light on the impact addiction and substance abuse has on both the user and the family.