Two-time Oscar winner, Ben Affleck, stars in “The Way Back,” a drama featuring a high school legend who has fallen from grace and is looking to piece together his life again. With Gavin O’Connor as director (“Miracle,” “The Accountant” and “Warrior”), viewers can expect a story that features triumph and redemption through sports and life.
Jack Cunnigham (Affleck) was a high school basketball star who had a full-ride scholarship but threw it all away for unknown reasons. As a construction worker, Jack has a fairly simple yet deeply disturbing daily routine that involves binge drinking.
Recently separated from his wife, Jack is mostly alone when he engages in self-destructive behavior until he receives a cryptic voicemail from the Head Priest of his former high school. After meeting with the Priest, Jack is offered a job coaching a losing boys basketball team.
Affleck’s smoldering demeanor and rugged appearance helped bring the complicated character of Jack to life. Movie-goers will be rooting for Jack every step of the way as he continues to get more involved with the team and helps them see their own potential. Despite their decades-long losing streak, with visibly little talent, Jack’s knowledge of the game is what makes an impact on the team.
“The Way Back” is not your typical cut and dry miracle story of a man bringing a losing team to a huge victory. It is a story that reveals the complicated nature of alcoholism, the true meaning of a support system and how life can simply be unfair, no matter how hard you try. The best part about this film is that it does not follow a predictable pattern, which is pleasantly surprising.
The backdrop of the film is structured in a way that pairs well with the melancholy vibe of the storyline. O’Connor ensured audiences will feel a particular void by use of low lighting scenes and lackluster wardrobes. The underlying nature of the film comes across in the finer details present in each scene that help define Jack’s character in a more intimate setting.
Even if movie-goers are not a big fan of Affleck, he truly shines in this film by bringing forth a character who is desperate to regain his footing in life. Viewers be warned, this story is not a walk in the park, as it delves into topics such as addiction, mental health, loss and relationships. Although there are many deeper moments, the nuances of humor planted throughout the movie help balance out the film perfectly.
It is films like these that make people realize that life can throw anything their way, but it is their choice to receive what has been given or struggle with their new reality.