Critic Reviews



Based on 35 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Julia Roberts blasts through this family reunion drama-turned-thriller with one of the most forceful performances of her career.
In this time for movies about teens in trouble, it’s the mom in this one who packs the biggest punch.
Ben Is Back is really Holly’s story, and notwithstanding the all-around excellence of the cast, it’s very much Roberts’s movie. This isn’t a matter of ego or showboating. On the contrary, what is so moving and effective about Roberts’s work here is her shrewd subversion of her long-established persona.
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.
The film is aware of the weight of its subject but loath to behave like an "important" film — focusing instead on the specificity of one sick young man and the family that loves and fears him in almost equal measure.
The entire film is that rarest of gifts for its cast, providing virtually every character with a chance to play not only the present moment, but the complicated history they’ve established with Ben in the past, as well as whatever chance they see in the troubled young man’s future.
It’s an uneven film, but a deeply passionate one that also features an A-list actress at the top of her game.
The movie is so assertively about the social issue at its heart – the way opioid addiction tears families apart – that it barely leaves room for its characters to breathe. At times it feels more as if they’re spokespeople with jobs to do. That takes its toll on both lead actors, especially Roberts: one minute she’s Denial Mom, the next she’s Tough Love Mom.
Slant Magazine
As the film hurtles toward its tense climax, you may find yourself both deeply resenting its narrative contrivances and passionately rooting for its protagonists.
There are good intentions and good performances here, but they’re squandered in a movie that isn’t quite sure what it should be and how far it should go.

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