The Way Back ★★★½

"She's losing a huge war against her refrigerator."

Ben Affleck shines in arguably his most personal and pained performance yet in 'The Way Back,' which sees him playing an ex-basketball phenom with a massive drinking problem as he tries to get back into the sport via coaching while simultaneously tackling his own inner demons and vices. No doubt pulling from his own experiences and trials in the last few years, Affleck does incredibly well in his range of emotions, from going on the attack when his alcoholism is questioned to even the physical appearance of a drunkard. Affleck's characterization here truly is the highlight of the film, standing out in so many ways and proving that he can deliver something special from time to time.

One of my complaints throughout actually morphed into a positive, how it seems like your typical underdog sports drama but stands out in that it's first and foremost about Affleck's issues, his recovery and, in ways, his own fight for survival. The basketball sequences were well done, too - I never felt that the moments between the coach and players were overly hammy or cheesy, and there are some nice callbacks and scenes where the characters are allowed to breathe and be their own unique personalities. I can't say I expected too much out of the film, going into it with virtually no clue what to expect, but it pleasantly surprised me, with a dazzling performance by Affleck and some real humanism throughout the film to keep me intrigued.

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