Film review: Ben Affleck finds The Way Back with career-best performance

This sports drama with an Oscar-worthy turn from its leading man is now available on-demand

There have been many ups and downs in the storied career and personal life of The Way Back star Ben Affleck.

From divorce and rehab to Oscars and the almost career-ending Gigli, Affleck has recently seen himself redeemed for past cinematic transgressions.

However, given the way he entirely inhabits the alcoholic, emotionally-scarred Jack Cunningham, Affleck may be finding catharsis for his alcoholism and personal traumas through this close-to-home character.

This film about a former high school phenom who wrestles his demons while trying to coach a losing high school basketball team at his alma mater sees Affleck at his very best on-screen.

Affleck gives an emotional, intense performance in a career-best showing with The Way Back. It’s the best mainstream film of the year, with an Oscar-worthy turn from the leading man.

Director Gavin O’Connor has had his fill of sports movies (Miracle, Warrior) and Affleck-driven fare (the underrated The Accountant), and he melds his expertise into a beautiful drama that hits perfect notes.

Without ever feeling hokey or preachy, it chronicles a deeply troubled man, and one who is consistently taking one step forward and two back. This film lives on Ben Affleck’s performance, and the pain and electricity he brings to the role brings the audience to their knees.

The Way Back is the first fantastic film of the year, and there is nothing this year that will quite affect you like watching Affleck exercise his demons on-screen.

Jordan Parker is a PR professional and journalist in Halifax, and these reviews appear first on his film blog Parker & the Picture Shows.