Strong self-pity is at the center of what Ben Affleck almost gives us a sneak peek into his troubled private life.
It’s no secret that the Hollywood star, on a private level, has for years struggled with alcohol problems, going in and out of rehab. When he in The Way Back portrays a small, heavily depressed, construction worker, who drinks 24/7 with both hands, it definitely adds an extra dimension to the film.
Jack (Affleck) lives in a suburb of the glamorous million-dollar city of LA, but there is nothing glamorous about Jack’s life.
Newly divorced, friendless and melancholy, the first thing he does in the morning, and the last thing he does in the evening, is to drink a beer. At work he fills the coffee cup full of alcohol, on the way home from work he stops by the pub, and drinks until he falls into bed. Both the family and the ex are worried about Jack, but he only lulls himself into his own egocentric self-pity – and sees no way out of the disability.
The rescue (?) Comes when he receives an unexpected offer to train the school basketball team for his old high school. Jack was something of a basketball star in his youth, but stopped being able to say “Fuck you!” to an asshole by a father.
Yep! So sad and tragic is the life of sleepy Jack, and The Way Back could quickly become an embarrassing and flat cliché of a movie. Neither the story nor the film is original or innovative, we are also rarely surprised by the plot – yet there is something genuinely genuine and deeply human that allows us to get involved in Jack’s tragic story.
We all cheer on a person trying to get up, and Jack’s transformation from a sad alcoholic to a dedicated basketball coach is fascinating and captivating; not least because we believe in Jack in the form of Affleck. He does not go from thirsty asshole to kind play uncle, but takes his inner demons with him on the road to redemption.
The Way Back is certainly a worthwhile film, with Ben Affleck in a form we have not seen him in since Argo. That the action and the premise are of the more ordinary kind, we are forgiven. 4 faint stars.