The Way Back Review
Updated: Mar 14, 2020
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Ben Affleck delivers one of his career best performances in The Way Back. Affleck’s struggles with alcoholism in his real life have been well documented, and it’s clear that he draws on these experiences to deliver a gripping performance with his character. Not only is Affleck acting, but he’s demonstrating to us in a very authentic way how an alcoholic functions on a day to day basis.
Affleck plays Jack Cunningham, a divorced former high school basketball prodigy. Jack spends most of his time either drinking at home chugging down beers at his local bar. Whilst dealing with his struggles, Jack is asked to be the basketball coach of a struggling side for the school he used to attend.
Affleck’s performance is the main reason people will enjoy this movie. He embodies the struggles of an alcoholic trying to find his way back (no pun intended) perfectly. Jack’s rage starts to creep into his new role as coach and you can see him berating his players for not being tough enough to get the job done on the court. This inevitably creates an interesting dynamic and tension between Jack and his peers.
Affleck does well to illustrate the pain behind Jack’s addiction problems. The writing is also correctly balanced and shows us that there’s not really an easy road back for Jack. The way Affleck delivers his lines, along with his mannerisms, highlight these struggles in the right way.
Affleck brings across the reality of how the addiction cycle affects alcoholics very powerfully. Addicts drink to run away form the unpleasant situations they find themselves in life, which in turn can go on to destroy or ruin several more aspects of their life. Scene by scene, Affleck is able to convey how this addiction cycle can wear a person down to the point of no return seemingly.
The Not So Good
One of my gripes with this picture is that it may have fallen into the trap of relying on too many sports movie clichés. The player who lacks in confidence, the player that has too much confidence, the jock. They’re all here and unfortunately portrayed in a one dimensional way for the most part. More depth in their personalities would have benefited this movie greatly when considered alongside Affleck’s performance.
Although the movie is predictable at times, it is still really enjoyable and definitely worth the watch just based on the depth of Affleck’s performance and the issues of alcoholism that are explored and confronted by the movie in a very real way throughout.h the movie is predictable at times, it is still really enjoyable and definitely worth the watch just based on the depth of Affleck’s performance and the issues of alcoholism that are explored and confronted by the movie in a very real way throughout.
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