The Way Back (2020) - USA
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
I have to confess that I have a soft spot for redemption and inspiring sporting dramas. “The Way Back” presents exactly that with real emotions and characters for one to relates toward. Directed by Gavin O'Connor and written by Brad Ingelsby, the film goes the humanist route by showing bad things do happen to good people and how one goes about dealing with tough and often tragic situations. There is a lot of depth shown in the events including alcoholism, depression and getting up again in the tough way just like life presents itself.
Ben Affleck plays his best role in years as the father struggling to get through the death of his son and combined with a bitter divorce with his ex wife (played wonderfully by Janina Gavankar). Affleck shows how difficult it is for anyone to overcome grief and a lack of purpose in life driven his character to drowning alcohol abuse and downright depression. It’s an inspiring tale of how he is given an opportunity to resurrect a struggling high school basketball team that forms the bases for his revival.
All in all, “The Way Back” succeeds in creating a very human story about ordinary people and how they go about their lives in face of adversity. Affleck’s performance is particularly noteworthy and rings home especially in bouts of depression and dependent on alcoholism. There are many good and inspiring moments in this film that ends up making it one of the better sport dramas in recent years.
I rated it 8/10