Ben is Back (Blu-ray) (2018)

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Released 15-May-2019

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2018
Running Time 103:07
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Peter Hedges

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Julia Roberts
Lucas Hedges
Courtney B. Vance
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Dickon Hinchcliffe

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Audio Commentary DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
English Descriptive Audio DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Many American made family dramas can be mawkish or overly sentimental resulting in a less than satisfying film experience for the audience. It is refreshing to see one that does tell the story in an obvious way leaving some of the details to be worked out along the way and also avoids the challenges I mentioned earlier. This film, Ben is Back, is a quality family drama based around the surprise return of a 19 year old son, Ben (Lucas Hedges, son of the director/writer, Peter Hedges) for Christmas at the family home. He has been living in a sober living facility due to addiction, although the true nature and genesis of the addiction only becomes clear later in the film. Due to previous issues his mother, Holly (Julia Roberts) had not been expecting him home for Christmas. His arrival brings a mixture of hope and concern to Holly but mostly concern to his step father, Neil (Courtney B. Vance) and sister Ivy (Kathryn Newton). Neil and Holly now have two younger children together.

Ben seems to be wanting to fix things with his family and also straighten his life out but the history makes his family concerned about his motives. Can Ben convince his family that it is safe to let him stay for one day or will they take him back to the facility? If they let him stay is he really there for the right reasons or will past history resurface in their lives?

As a father of teenage boys, I feel the strength of this film is in its believability and sensible approach. The director, Peter Hedges, sets out to take us inside the family to see the dynamics at play between the characters. He does a good job with the material, which he also wrote, creating an intense and hard hitting drama about addiction and its impact on families. The issues portrayed in this film seem to be very prevalent in small town America and are also true in Australia. The cast is excellent, with Julia Roberts giving a marvelous performance as Holly and Lucas Hedges really engages as the troubled but likable son. Both are previous Oscar winners or nominees. The rest of the cast provides great support. It was filmed on location in upstate New York providing a good atmosphere. The music also adds to the atmosphere, composed by Dickon Hinchcliffe. The film made very little impact at the box office in the US or here but did quite well on the festival circuit.


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Transfer Quality


The video quality is very good without being reference quality.

The feature is presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio whichisthe original aspect ratio in 1080p. The film was shot digitally and looks quite good, with good colour and sufficient detail. There are no issues to report but it certainly doesn't pop from the screen either. The wintery landscapes are well represented despite the naturalistic lighting.

There aresubtitles available in English for the Hearing Impaired which are clear and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


The audio quality is very good but this is certainly not an aggressive soundtrack making full use of your home theatre.

This disc contains an English soundtrack in DTS HD-MA 5.1 and a descriptive audio track in DTS HD-MA 2.0. Similar to the video there is nothing about this soundtrack that makes it stand out but it does a good job with the material. The music sounds nice and full, the dialogue is clear throughout. There is quite a lot of surround activity for such a film which adds to the atmosphere and viewing experience.

Thesubwoofer did a good job supporting the music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


A small selection of extras.


The menu is still and includes the theme music.

Audio Commentary - Peter Hedges - Writer/Director

A decent commentary which is intimate, earnest and gentle. He talks fairly quietly about the themes, shooting styles, the characters, the acting, facial expressions, production design and more. He has interesting things to say but does pause quite often seemingly to watch the film. Worth a listen. In DTS HD-MA 2.0.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The US release of this film includes a picture gallery but this is not enough reason to import. Technically a win to Region A.


A quality family drama about addiction and its impact.

The video quality is very good.

The audio quality is very good.

There is one extra.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, July 08, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLEDC8PTA 55. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationMarantz SR5012
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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