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Hedges is not sure about what he wants to say. And it’s that uncertainty in his vocab that aches us throughout this day. He has not clearly adapted the version of or the genre of the film he wants to put in front of us. Maybe he is mixing up things a bit or trying to surprise his viewers, anyhoo, the result is a confused dish with plethora of ingredients and no taste to savour it. The script written by the director Peter Hedges himself, is a complete one. There is no extra branch hanging around in it for a distraction or dramatic effects.
It is written with a sense of constructing a crime thriller investigation where at the actual stakes is drama. And this is what it’s entire second half is brimmed of, the investigation process carried off by a team of two partners that are trying to overcome their issues and limitations along with solving a burglary. I can imagine the bells ringing enthusiastically in maker’s head as this idea illuminated in front of him. And as much as fascinating this topic of discussion is, the weaving and execution of the script is equally banal.
Which now leaves the film on the hand of our two partners in crime, Holly Burns (Julia Roberts) as the mother of a drug addict Ben Burnes played beautifully by Lucas Hedges, and they stay true to their promises till the last act. In fact, I would presume to be script written in a way to be relied upon the performances, pinning down powerful sequences one by one into script that acts like an antic to step upon, the portrayal of this mother-son equation paints this exploration dark theme by bright appealing colors.
Hedges is growing out to be one of the top contenders of current generation actors, from supporting to leading the film all on his merits he has managed to show his skills at its best. His first confessional monologue in a meeting is a fine example of it as he whips you with a big wallop of tear jerking emotions. Roberts on the other hand is an equal threat, she has more of a parallel role than a supporting one and she trying to be rigid and one dimensional when it comes to cure her son, is the ultimate armor of hers that helps her survive this battle.
Other supporting cast merely plays out to be like a pawn, where they can easily be described as those pieces of puzzles that we usually encounter on a crime drama that helps the protagonist to end the investigation sooner. A lot of films this year has chosen this theme to send out a message, each being different and intriguing on their own terms, this one stands alone for the race-against-time nature of it. Ben Is Back is almost titled as if some B grade action film is, there is a levity to it but then it also explains too much and too little of what the film is about.