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Film / The Way Back (2020)

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"I spent a lot of time hurting myself. I made a lot of bad decisions. I got a lot of regrets."

The Way Back is a sports drama film directed by Gavin O'Connor (The Accountant) starring Ben Affleck, Janina Gavankar, Al Madrigal, Brandon Wilson, Hayes MacArthur and Rachael Carpani.

Jack Cunningham (Affleck) is a former HS basketball phenom who's struggling with alcoholism. He is offered a coaching job at his alma mater. As the team starts to win, he may have a reason to confront his old demons. But will it be enough to set him on the road to redemption?

The film was released on March 6, 2020.

Previews: Trailer.

Not to be confused with 2010's The Way Back.


This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Jack has a blatant alcoholism problem and lives in denial of it. He drinks in his car, in the shower, in bars, etc...
    Beth: What's going on with you? What's new?
    Jack: Not much.
    Beth: Hate the idea of you down there by yourself all the time... Just drinking.
    Jack: I'm fine, I appreciate it. But it's... I'm fine.
  • Berserk Button: Like many alcoholics, Jack loses his temper when he's confronted with his drinking problem.
  • Big Game: Jack's team only needs one more game to make it to the playoffs... but their last chance is against the number one team in the league.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jack loses his job as coach just before the playoffs due to his alcoholism and nearly gets arrested after the resulting bender, but that allows him to finally seek out the help he needs to find a workable plan for recovery. Meanwhile, the team continues to improve as a result of his guidance.
  • Advertisement:
  • Blatant Lies: Jack pretends he's fine, but his face, tone of voice and the multiple instances of him drinking say the contrary.
  • Freudian Excuse: Jack was originally driven into drinking and drugs because he realized his father only showed love for him because of his basketball skills. His marriage apparently helped him recover somewhat, but when he lost his son to cancer it drove him even deeper into alcoholism than before.
  • Meta Casting: Ben Affleck has well-documented alcoholism issues since about 2016, and plays a man who's struggling to get out of it.
  • Recovered Addict: Jack takes the coach job partly because he thinks it can help him recover from his alcohol addiction.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Jack is very foul-mouthed, casually dropping hard profanity in pretty much every context, including in front of the boys who make up the team. The chaplain calls him out on this multiple times. (The film is set at a Catholic school).
  • Sports Stories: A former basketball player who struggles with alcoholism and wants to put himself on a path of redemption by becoming a coach.
  • Tag Line: "Every loss is another fight."


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