The Way Back

 

The Way Back 2

By Joanna Langfield

Warning: you may touch your face watching this one. Because Ben Affleck elevates a rather perfunctory story into a genuinely moving drama that might make you want to wipe away a tear or two.

Full disclosure: I am a Ben Affleck fan. Ever since he, in Good Will Hunting, told Matt Damon why his friend should not show up for work one morning. There’s always been something compelling about Aflleck’s on screen presence, a bit of a chipped, not broken, soul. In this, a story about a former high school basketball star, now living alone and drinking way, way too much, that echo of sadness is factored in. But Jack Cunningham is not obviously depressed. He’s a star at the local bar, a favorite with his niece and nephew. His sister may notice he could be doing better, but once Jack is hired to coach his alma mater’s rag tag basketball team, we all hope this could be just what Jack needs.

It would have been easier, and perhaps more entertaining, to turn the emphasis on the needy kids. After all, isn’t it cathartic to watch losers become winners? But screenwriter/director Gavin O’Connor allows the focus to be on a character who doesn’t really know how to fight his way back. Anyone who’s read not just the gossip pages, but any recent interviews with Affleck knows Jack’s story feels pretty similar to the actor’s own. Known for taking on roles that make him stretch, this one makes Ben, it seems, dig deep. And the on screen results are worth it. We can’t help but care for Jack, more and more as his circumstances encourage. And, in so doing, we root not just for the character, but also the man who plays him, wanting them both to find peace.

One Response to “The Way Back”

  1. The Way Back | The Movie Minute Says:

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