The Way Back

Having watched the trailer, the assumption was 1. This is another movie that’s going to be based in Massachusetts, or at least New England. 2. Affleck was going to carry that New England accent throughout the film. 3. The movie is going to be soooo predictable. It is not.

Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) drinks. A lot. He comes home from work and he starts working on a case of beer that’s been sitting in his fridge all day calling his name. His fridge doesn’t contain much more than cans of beer. The 12 oz. aluminum container even accompanies him to the shower all the time.

Most nights after his construction job, he parks at his neighborhood bar, proceeds to do his best impression of functional, then gets walked home by a friend, crashes, get up in the morning and does it over again. Day drinking on the job and doing everything he can to hide it. He is a functioning alcoholic, able to work to support his habit. But it seems that we are watching him near a breaking point.

Jack gets a phone call from the Father who is the principal of his Alma Mater, with a request to help coach the basketball team. The coach had a heart attack and will not be returning to his post. The team had not fared well since Cunningham took the team to the State Finals. He thinks that Jack would be the best person to coach the team at Bishop Hayes.

We are shown that he is separated from his wife Angela (Janina Gavankar) They show an uneasiness whenever they speak to each other. Both show how what was once familiar, now has changed to discomfort. It is not only this relationship that is strained by silence. The bond between him and his sister is tenuous.

The Way Back is a beautifully made film that shows how far one can fall in life and lose themselves. The challenges, pitfalls and mistakes that can alter one’s path. There are moments in the film that seems formulaic, somewhat predictable, but that only to sets us up for its unexpected beauty.


4 out of 5 Stars