Available on VOD and Sky Cinema in the UK.
Finding the Way Back is a classic comeback story. Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) is a former high school basketball star, now working in construction, living in a small apartment, separated from his wife and with a clear drink problem his life has taken many a downward turn. He is then offered an opportunity by his old school to coach their failing basketball team, who’ve not seen success since Jack’s playing days. He reluctantly accepts, which gives him a new purpose, the chance to inspire the group of young men in his charge.
If the plot sounds familiar, then that’s because it is. Brad Inglesby’s story and Director Gavin O’Connor deliver an absolutely paint by numbers comeback story, you can telegraph every turn as it ticks off all of the classic tropes, down and out, attempt at redemption, things going well etc. But that’s not a negative, the reason that these stories keep getting retold, is because done well they make a good watch.
This certainly sits at the better end of the scale, Affleck is in his element in this role, playing the down and out, alcoholic Cunningham, these are the kinds of role he does so well, the flashes of inspiration and passion, balanced by the under current of the trials that have taken him to this point in his life. Janina Gavankar offers good support as Cunningham’s estranged wife, with a nicely understated series of scenes between them that explore more of the events that have impacted them both. The young cast who make up the basketball team do a good job of delivering all the relevant character’s required by an underdog team, but all are believable and likeable.
While this is not the most original film you’ll see, it is a nicely done one, filled with solid performances and a story that is full of heart, even if some of its contrivances are a little convenient. Let’s face it a well done telling of a classic comeback story is always worth a watch and this is one of those.