Friday also marks the theatrical releases of ‘Ben is Back’ and ‘Swimming with Men.’

Natalie Portman in ‘Vox Lux’
Courtesy of Venice International Film Festival

Natalie Portman plays a glitzy pop diva in Vox Lux, which is set for a limited release on Friday. It joins other limited releases including the Julia Roberts starring film Ben is Back, period piece Mary Queen of Scots and British comedy Swimming with Men.

‘Ben is Back’

Release Date: Dec. 7

 

Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges in ‘Ben is Back’
Courtesy of LD Entertainment/Roadside Attractions

Lucas Hedges plays the titular character of Ben, who unexpectedly comes home from a sober-living facility to his mother (Julia Roberts), stepfather (Courtney B. Vance) and three siblings just before Christmas. He’s given one day before he has to return to the facility, but within that time, the family dog is kidnapped and old associates resurface in Ben’s life. The actor’s father, Peter Hedges, directs the film.

“Another in a string of impressive turns by the young actor (Hedges) and one of the best things Roberts has ever done, 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,” writes THR‘s John DeFore in his review.

‘Mary Queen of Scots’

Release Date: Dec. 7

Saoirse Ronan in ‘Mary Queen of Scots’

Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie go head-to-head as 16th century British royal cousins Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, respectively. Mary returns to Scotland, which is under the rule of Elizabeth, and attempts to reclaim the throne.

Todd McCarthy praises the performances of the two leads: “Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie shine in this exceedingly of-the-political-moment telling of a compelling story, which will compete with the more outrageous and unruly The Favourite for the favors of year-end viewers hot for unbound ruling class yarns.”

‘Swimming With Men’

Release Date: Dec. 7

‘Swimming With Men’

IFC Films

A middle-aged accountant, played by Welsh comedian Rob Brydon, finds little joy in his domestic or work life. He does, however, find solace in an all-male synchronized swimming team whose members are preparing for an international competition. “Aiming for charm but instead coming across as hopelessly forced, Swimming With Men barely manages to stay afloat,” writes critic Frank Scheck.

‘Vox Lux’

Release Date: Dec. 7

Natalie Portman in ‘Vox Lux’
Alessio Botticelli/GC Images

Brady Corbet directs Natalie Portman in Vox Lux, which follows a teenage girl, Celeste, who survives a school shooting and goes on to become a global superstar after singing at a memorial and catching the attention of a manager (Jude Law). Raffey Cassidy, who starred in 2017’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer, plays a young Celeste while Portman plays the older, scandal-ridden songstress.

“Climaxing with a superbly staged full-scale dance-pop show, featuring Portman encrusted in body glitter, Corbet’s high-caliber melodrama combines food for thought with sense-blitzing spectacle,” writes critic Stephen Dalton.