This past long weekend I didn’t really watch anything too interesting but for re-watching Dan Brown’s Inferno. I have already talked about it before as another installment of the Robert Langdon series. It’s okay.
I also watched before the weekend the Julia Roberts’ film Ben is Back. It also star the young and up and coming male star Lucas Hedges. He has done some memorable roles already including Boy Erased with Russell Crowe and the family trying to use conversion therapy on their son to remove his inclination towards other boys (see Nov 26 2018 review). This film is a lot closer to the other TIFF released from last year Beautiful Boy with Timothee Chalamet (also a very popular and in demand young actor) where Steve Carrell as father tries to understand and help his addicted son. This was reviewed by me on October 29th in the Halloween edition. There is a similar arc to both stories with Roberts and Carrell playing the loving (maybe too enabling parent) who wants to help a son who has lost his way. Or at least he has found a path that the parents disagree with and they view it as self-destructive. As addicts the boys are both convincing. They have done terrible things and disappear for stretches of time. Hedges’ character Ben is coming back early from a stint in Rehab it seems. Only he seems to think that his returning to his home (with Mom, Step-Dad, younger sister and step-siblings) is a good idea. He sponsor does not. The plot is simple with his surprise visit and then as he wanders this small town which may be Vermont (but the mall seems a great deal like Woodbine Centre in Toronto) he gets noticed and recognized by others in the town. There are some interesting moments, like Mom Julia in the mall which is unexpected. There are others where Ben seems to have a dark cloud around him and bad things just seem to happen. His step-father is not impressed. His Mom tries to smooth things over and make them right. I thought I knew where this was going and then it changed direction, mildly anyway. Is it more satisfying than Beautiful Boy? Not sure. It’s different but keeps a theme going. Is the Hedges performance better than Chalamet? I can’t say that. He has a couple moments where he needs to show some depth and he addresses them admirably. What I can say about seeing both of these is that I am glad, so far, that my children haven’t been caught up in this world. It’s a scary prospect that one who you have cared so closely for takes a U-turn and heads in a direction you can’t understand or relate to in any way. I guess life is a lottery in many ways and children have to make their own choices. Julia Roberts has some palpable moments of frustration and I think she attacks the problem for her directly with a moving seen with her son, just the two of them. You’ll know it when you see it, and it was a moment where I sat and watched and just said “wow”.