The Way Back Review: 5 Ups & 2 Downs

Ben Affleck at his best in this somber, authentic drama about a man looking for purpose.

The Way Back
Warner Bros.

While watching The Way Back, it's difficult to separate the artist from the art. Not everyone may know about Ben Affleck's increasingly-public struggles with alcoholism but upon the announcement of this movie, it was clear that Affleck wanted to express his struggle and journey in a cinematic way. The Way Back may not be a biopic, but through Affleck's powerfully restrained performance and Gavin O'Connor's soft nuance behind the camera, it is a superb film with a rare sense of authenticity.

The film works so well and stands out because of that authenticity. Rarely does anything ever feels like it goes too far or over-dramatic for the sake of 'hooking' you. It's also not a story about this happy-go-lucky guy who develops a drinking problem, transforming him into a terrible person who does bad things. Ben Affleck's Jack is just a normal dude with a rough past and a poor way of dealing with it. Those around him try to break through, but to no avail, leaving them often in the movie's peripheral. It would've been nice to get a bit more out of those side characters, but the movie does a good job of efficiently establishing them beyond surface-level people.

Director Gavin O'Connor and Ben Affleck continue to have great chemistry together, providing Affleck the right direction to lead this movie on-screen. They (along with writer Brad Ingelsby) provide a thoughtful, intimate character study mixed with a standard underdog sports movie.

The movie is now available for digital release after just a short run in cinemas before they were all forced to close. The review follows...


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