Over the decades since the beginning of the movie industry, many films have been made about alcoholism. Most of these films deal how alcoholism effects the person with this disease and those around them. Fewer movies deal with the reason why the person became an alcoholic in the first place.
The new movie “The Way Back” is about a down and out construction worker Jack Cunningham, played by Ben Affleck who becomes a high school basketball coach, despite being a very heavy drinker. What makes this story great, is because it explains why Jack became a dangerous alcoholic. One reason was because of the problems he had with his father while in high school, when Jack was a great high school basketball player. The other reason is a huge tragedy he shares with his wife Angela, played by Janina Gavankar. Considering the trauma Jack and his wife endured, anyone could easily understand Jack’s problems with alcoholism
The story starts with Jack being hired as the high school basketball coach of same high school where he was the greatest player in team history. At first Jack is very reluctant to take this job, but over time he turns a very bad team with a record of 1-11 into a huge winner. The basketball scenes are outstanding as are the practice sessions, where Jack hammers home the most important basketball concepts, starting with constant trapping and rabid team defense. As with all great stories, nothing is easy, and the twist at the end is very well done. In the history of movies, there has probably never been a better actor to play this part, than Ben Affleck, who has had years of publicized and very severe alcohol problems himself. I agree with many of the critics who believe this is the best acting performance of Affleck’s career. This is a very well done sports movie, one of the best I have ever seen.
The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for this movie are a very high 87% and I agree with this rating and hope, despite the early release of this film, that Affleck receives a best actor nomination.