Director Peter Hedges presents Ben is Back, a heart-wrenching story about an estranged son who returns home for Christmas but is unable to ease back into family life as dangerous figures from his time away continue to hound him.
The film used a very dark and muted pallet to convey the harsh tones and seemingly hopeless situations of the characters. Costume designer Melissa Toth contributed to this gloomy atmosphere through her wardrobe allocations. Julia Roberts played Ben’s mother, Holly Burns. Burns was a typical suburban mother who demonstrated immeasurable strength and determination in the fight to give her son a normal life. Dressed in heavy layers with fluffy coats, turtlenecks and beanies, her layered ensembles were not sloppily pulled together. Rather, different colours and textures were combined in such a way that every item appeared as if they were designed to sit alongside one another. Dark blues, greens and faux-fur were staples for the character and stood out nicely among the dark and gloomy winter setting.
Burns ensembles gave her a soft and motherly appearance, which contrasted with her stubborn and unshakeable commitment to what is right. Highly maternal, her love for her son is not to be mistaken for weakness or frailty. The contrast worked nicely to create an unexpected and well-rounded depiction of the character.