Finding The Way Back – Film Review
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Writer: Brad Ingelsby
Stars: Ben Affleck, Al Madrigal, Janina Gavankar
In this film, Ben Affleck plays Jack Cunningham. Jack was the star of his high school basketball team. He looked like he had the potential to go far in the game, but for some reason, he gave it all up and dropped out of college. He now works in construction and spends his nights drinking himself into a stupor. That’s when he gets a call from a priest in his old high school. The coach of their basketball team has had a heart attack, and Jack was the first name he thought of to fill the void. Jack takes over this team of misfits and oddballs with a dream of making them into something great.
So far, so utterly Hollywood. It sounds like a story you’ve seen a hundred times before, but this story doesn’t quite go according to the standard plot lines. It does to a degree but then deviates from the norm, which is to its credit but in some ways also its detriment. This change in direction makes the ending feel a bit disjointed.
The film was made under very unusual circumstances with Affleck’s own drink problems mirroring the main character. There was even talk that the film might be cancelled altogether, but somehow it made it to our screens. Affleck’s own problems have been much discussed in recent times, and also the fact that no one feels sorry for major Hollywood stars, despite their predicaments.
“Affleck’s was the kind of middle-aged-white-male sadness that the Internet loves to mock—a mocking that depends, simultaneously, on a complete rejection of this sadness, as well as a hedging identification with it.” – The Great Sadness of Ben Affleck– By Naomi Fry – March 24, 2018
The film is directed by Gavin O’Connor, who has previously directed films such as The Accountant (again with Ben Affleck) and Jane Got a Gun. He has also worked extensively in TV and as a producer. While not a cinematic great, he has had a solid career and this will no doubt add to his reputation.
This is very much Affleck’s film. There are many scenes of him alone and brooding, and no other character comes close to matching his screen time. While basketball does feature heavily, in some ways it is more a film about addiction. It’s not quite your standard-issue Hollywood film and while flawed, it does succeed in capturing the sadness of a man who could have had it all. For how it reflects on Affleck’s own life, we’ll leave that up to the viewer.