Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges serve up some mighty fine performances in the new trailer for Ben Is Back. In a wave of awards season films aimed at tearing parents’ hearts apart, notably with the Steve Carrell/ Timothee Chalamet-led Beautiful Boy, Ben Is Back explores a mother’s relationship with her troubled son, and it looks incredible. Echoing Winona Ryder’s heart-wrenching search for her lost son in Stranger Things, Roberts gives a show-stealing performance, pitted opposite the sublimely talented Hedges.
In the trailer, mother Holly Burns (Roberts) has an unexpected meeting with her son Ben (Hedges), a mixture of bemusement, shock, relief, and uncertainty playing out on her face, in a way that only Julia Roberts could achieve. Already, this is set to take us on a complicated journey. Arriving unannounced for the Christmas holidays, Ben is skipping rehab to be with his family, and the story unfolds throughout the course of a single day. With his arrival, though, come dangerous consequences, and it’s clear that although he’s seventy-seven days clean from a crippling drug addiction, the repercussions of his actions will affect everyone close to him.
What’s extraordinary about this movie is that it’s been written by Peter Hedges for his real-life son, and the pair of them seem to have an excellent working relationship that means that they can craft the character and story around Lucas’ performance. He has already proven to have talent way beyond his years: all his performances in recent years from the formative Manchester by the Sea to Three Billboards, via Lady Bird, have been fantastic – and when you think that he’s only 21 years old, it’s a feat that he’s been given such important roles. At Toronto last month, Ben Is Back led to spontaneous applause and rave reviews from critics, who praised both Hedges and Roberts for their brilliant work.
Ben Is Back also stars Courtney B. Vance as a tough-love stepfather, Neal, and Lady Bird’s Kathryn Newton as the concerned and wary sister, Ivy. It will arrive in theaters on December 7, 2018, just in time for the holidays, and will no doubt have me just a little bit weepy.