The Way Back Movie Review: Ben Affleck's Performance is Better than the Film

The Way Back Movie Review: Ben Affleck's Performance is Better than the Film

The Way Back Movie Review: Ben Afflect is great, the movie is predictable

Rating: ** ½ (two and a half stars)

While the very watchable superstar Ben Affleck makes peace with his bereavement and alcoholism in this  predictable and sometimes-trite sports-family drama, the film’s producers Warner Brother have made peace with the streaming platform, releasing this big film in the home-viewing space when theatres are locked down.Only the Chinese can see this film in  theatres. And they are welcome to it.

It is hard to be swept into Affleck’s 24/7 surly affliction when the world is in the grips of a terrifying pandemic. This  neatly  though  unimaginatively conceived drama shows  us a world before the virus when it was  okay for  Affleck’s Jack Cunnigham, a  former basketball champion and a current menace to sobriety, to be locked down in his own grief. Jack, we gather soon enough, has lost his young son and spends all his time blaming others for his  grief.

I  could understand that. What I can’t understand is the perfunctory manner in which Affleck’s interactive moments with sister (Michaela Watkins) and wife (Janina Gavankar) are dealt with. Almost as if director Gavin O’Conner (who earlier teamed  up with Aflleck  in The Accountant)  has bigger plans  for the plot which never materialize.

There is one big showdown in the kitchen with the sis that ends sarcastically with Jack asking which of the ‘20 bedrooms’ in his sister’s house he can sleep over in for Thankgiving. If I was Jack’s sibling I’d slap him. He is worse with his wife taunting her for getting over their son’s death sooner than he had.The words  he uses are not polite. This  man needs  a mouth freshner, a soul cleanser more than a  hand sanitizer.

The  chance to redeem himself by  turning basketball coach to his former college’s students  is  nothing  but Sidney Pottier’s To Sir With Love, with ‘Sir’ Ben Affleck in  a ceaseless alcoholic slur. The rapport  with the  predictably  rebellious  basketball boys  gives us  no memorable  student-mentor  moments. Jack keeps swearing at  them. That and the drinking soon ends his coaching career. And  I can’t say I  grieved  for  him.

Thereafter the  plot conspires  to somehow make  it look right for Affleck’s fallen character. Affleck’s endlessly  dour expression suggests otherwise. Affleck shows his  alcoholism with terrifying bluntness. It’s like asking Harvey Weinstein to play a serial sex offender.

Sadly Affleck’s sincere Oscar-worthy performance (if there is an Oscar ceremony next year) is far more  impressive than anything in  this mediocre drama about finding your way back.

We don’t have to worry  about that. We are at home.

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