#REVIEW: “THE WAY BACK”
By Mr. Will Wong
THE WAY BACK certainly finds its way home. The Sports Drama starring Ben Affleck in one of his most powerful roles to date, actually mirrors in several ways parallels its star’s journey back to the spotlight after a bit of time spent soul searching.
The Film centers on Jack Cunningham (Affleck) whom once was a promising young basketball start on the verge of stardom. Instead, he rejected a lucrative scholarship and after a failed marriage and tragedy, turned to a life of alcoholism. We meet him as he gets a second chance to revisit his passion, training his flailing Alma Mater high school basketball team when an opening surfaces out of the blue. Despite his reluctance to accept, it isn’t long before we see him invigorated once again. Furthermore, we witness the profound effect his direction and vision has on his team. Jack still must face his tackle his darkest demons which continue to plague him.
Writer/Director Gavin O’Connor does a phenomenal job capturing this Story which he co-wrote with Brad Ingelsby, shifting it tonally from an edge-of-your-seat Sports Drama to something deeply heartfelt and personal. It’s been a while since we’ve been as affected as we have here with Affleck’s compassionate performance which stays with you after the Credits roll. He is ferocious as a coach in his element, yet mesmerizing in the Film’s quieter moments which reduce Jack to his most vulnerable self.
Supporting Cast performances including several fresh faces worthy of mention, including Brandon Wilson as the Team’s most promising player, Melvin Gregg as the headstrong Marcus and Will Ropp as the comical, girl-crazy Kenny. They are so great we find ourselves missing them when the Film’s focus goes back to its central character.
Cinematography by Eduard Grau is breathtaking. He takes us right into the hoop in the Film’s riveting game sequences, but also captures and working class California, cutting us a real slice of life through his lens. The beautiful final frame is an unforgettable one that lingers on.
THE WAY BACK is phenomenal storytelling and through much of the pain and darkness it subjects us to in Affleck’s undeniable work, there is a beautiful, hopeful light that shines.
Warner Bros. Canada release THE WAY BACK Friday, March 6, 2020.