The Way Back

The Way Back ★★★½

some people say... I drink to forget

they couldn’t be further from the truth

some people say... I drink to have a good time

they couldn’t be further from the truth

and some people... they say I drink myself to death

I need a drink
I need a drink 
I need a drink
I need a drink

I was debating how truthful I should be in my writeup of Ben Affleck's new film, the first theatrical release he's starred in since Live By Night which only ended up playing one week in theaters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Truth is, I was on a bender when I watched it. Truth is, I was on a bender the night before and tonight I'll probably be on another one. See, I am quite a social person and I am balanced when I share a space with someone else; there's an accountability there. But when I self isolate, I drink. And being forced to self isolate right now is difficult for that reason. I've always partook in an occasional self-seclusion, free of accountability and free of self-censoring mind races of calculating how I'll be perceived or whether my creative ideas are of note or not and just sit with them and write them down if I even can. I'll stop. I know the way back. And I know I'll also be back in at some point.

I'll say that the film, a character study about an alcoholic who starts to reduce his bad habits when he starts coaching his Catholic school alma matter's underachieving basketball team but sees them resurface due to a familial reminder that kicks in his coping methods, is a nice comeback for Affleck, who himself is a recovering alcoholic. There are a few leaps that don't really land, such as turning down a Division I scholarship to get back at a father and that like every mainstream film about trauma the root of his alcoholism is a dead child, but what works exceptionally well in The Way Back is the understanding that the way back comes from having a meaningful task. Those of us with daddy issues likely stem from the work ethic approach to parenting, it's inescapable, a task to focus on means everything in self worth and application. And even though The Way Back offers very little in regards to surprises and does favor tying the laces tight in regards to character traumas, the subdued ending is a nice shift. It's not about championships; just getting to a place to try again. That's the way back. And I do know the way back.

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