'The Way Back' Is A Story About Redemption

The movie shines a spotlight on the dangers of alcohol abuse

Terri Lee-Sylvester
March 06, 2020 - 2:40 pm
Ben Affleck, far right, stars in 'The Way Back'
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DETROIT (WWJ) - Ben Affleck stars in 'The Way Back', which is now in theaters.  The movie shines a spotlight on the dangers of alcohol abuse, a story that he's all too familiar with.  

'The Way Back' is a story about redemption.  The movie's star, Ben Affleck, has said the struggles that his character, Jack Cunningham, are going through are similar to his own struggles with addiction, which played a big part in his decision to take on this project.  

In the movie, Jack is addicted to alcohol, which he drowns himself in, in order to avoid dealing with his problems: he's distanced himself from his family and his marriage is failing.

“This movie was enormously satisfying to me,” Affleck said. “Every day was a joy where I got to connect with and express something that was important to me. I understood the depth of this character. I understood the nuance and complexity of what he is going through and the contradictory nature of the bind he is in. I have a very deep personal understanding, not just of the platitudes—drink too much, quit, struggle, get better, and so on—but of the little moments and details, the degree of denial, the struggle with coming to acceptance that this is an issue that is affecting your life, and the difficulty in having to recover from that. Recovery, in my experience, is a rather iterative process: you learn a little bit, you fall down, you learn a little bit more, and it takes what it takes. You get there when you get there. We wanted to show the reality of that…that it isn’t always neat and clean.”

Jack was a high school basketball phenom.  However, instead of accepting a college scholarship that would have given him a free ride and most likely a pro career, he dropped out of sight and his life started spiraling downward.  He gets a chance to turn his life around when he's offered the head coaching job at his high school alma mater.  Initially, he isn't interested in the position, but eventually he has a change of heart.

Since the movie's promotional campaign makes it very obvious that the film revolves around Jack's coaching, the fact that he accepts the job is no surprise, but the way the script is written -- or possibly the way the movie was edited -- makes it seem that his decision to take the job came out of left field.  A lot of time is spent on him saying 'no', and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he shows up in the gym.

For the most part, though, this is a very good and worthwhile movie.  Anyone who's not aware of the dangers of alcohol abuse and how it can tear people and families apart, will see just what it does in this movie, which makes it painfully clear.

Kudos to Ben Affleck for having the courage to bring this story, which hits so close to home, to the big screen.

See you at the movies!

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