The Way Back (2020)

Directed by Gavin O’ Connor

Starring Ben Affleck, Al Madrigal, Michael Watkins

This film was supposed to be my return to a movie theater after a few weeks of not so interesting films for me. But we all know the situation the world is today and the movie was released early on digital. I bought the film because I wanted to see it. If you follow my page you might see that this the second film I see today dealing with addiction. This time is alcohol the demon that the character faces.

The film is about Jack Cunningham, a contractor who lives almost like a reclusive and drinks constantly. We see the character leaving his work with a cooler full of beer in the car and the fridge has nothing but beer in it. Out of the blue, he is called from his former high school where he was a big basketball player, to coach the team. He takes the job and slowly finds a way to get to those kids and turn them into better players while also finding his way back to feeling better.

This film’s premise reminded me a little of another good film, Hardball, where Keanu played a down on his luck guy who coaches a little league baseball team and his life changes. Gladly, this film even if it has a premise that has been done many times before, it felt different in good ways. I like that the story does give importance to the team but only as to how it affects the main character. The film does not force you into having each kid have a situation where the character has to intervene, in fact just one and it is quick and does not take too much time on the screen. I see a lot of these movies give some kind of expected personality to each kid and sometimes it just does not work, here the kids are played normally, no exaggerated traits to either make the movie more funnier or for another reason. The focus is on the main character because the story is how the team changes him and I liked that. There were moments of inspiration within what happened with the team, but that was not the main inspiration behind the movie and I also liked that. It has some inevitable moments in these kinds of the film but it does not matter much because the film does a good job in making the audience care about the character and when the source of his pain is revealed the more you care.

I have to give praise to Ben Affleck for his performance, you could feel the pain, the emptiness and the hopelessness the character felt just by looking at his eyes. I know that Ben went through his own thing with alcoholism and maybe he just understood the character too well, he nailed it. like I said, I usually don’t like the kids in this kind of film because of the characteristics they give the characters. Here, the players felt normal students and not some forced characters to add something to the movie, and for that, I praise the performances from the supporting cast.

It is a sad story but at the same time an inspirational story about how we can turn around our lives.

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