The Way Back

These are the movies Ben Affleck should be making.  Playing characters beset by internal angst lands right over the plate for him, if only he’d take a swing. He plays Jack, a high school basketball star whose life never panned out.  He lives a mundane existence working construction by day and drinking by night.

When his old alma mater comes calling in need of a basketball coach he has a big decision to make, which calls for another beer or twenty. Affleck has been stuck in tabloid hell for years, much of his own making, box office disasters, divorce and his own demons with the drink.

After David Fincher’s ‘Gone Girl’ you may have thought he was on his way back, but no, more tabloid drama. This Gavin O’Connor film shows that Affleck still has what it takes to inhabit a meaty role; he’s committed to this like I haven’t seen him in years.

O’Connor loves a close up, and when Jack is going through the constant pain and drama in his life you really see Affleck at his best. The director also has the mix right; the sports drama doesn’t swamp us. The scenes seamlessly move back into Jack’s personal stuff.

There may be a little schmaltz but I dare you not to at least think about shedding a tear. Look for Al Madrigal as the assistant basketball coach; he’s a scene-stealer.

This is the story of a functioning alcoholic looking for at least some redemption, which you can imagine might not be far from Affleck’s real life.  He is fantastic here in the year of disjointed movie releases.  ‘The Way Back’ with only a few months left of 2020 is going awfully close to my ‘movie of the year’.

hallymustang rating 4.5/5. 🎥🎥🎥🎥🎞

 

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