Finding the Way Back sees Ben Affleck and director Gavin O’Connor reunite after 2016’s underrated action thriller The Accountant, this time crafting a more subtle and reflective piece. The result is Finding the Way Back, a powerful sports drama that boasts Affleck’s finest performance to date.
Affleck plays Jack Cunningham, a washed-up alcoholic stuck in a dead-end job, far past his glory days as a high school basketball superstar. His marriage is ruined, and any chance of a better life seems far beyond reach. But when an opportunity arises at his alma mater to coach the basketball programme that has fallen on hard times, Jack is offered one last shot at redemption.
Finding the Way Back is Affleck’s film through and through, as he delivers a powerful and poignant Oscar-calibre performance that steals the entire show. As the quiet, suffering Jack, Affleck shows a tortured and vulnerable side not too dissimilar to his work as the caped crusader in Zack Snyder’s Batman films. He is phenomenal, and elevates the entire film around him – although thanks to O’Connor’s direction and particularly Rob Simonsen’s hauntingly beautiful score, it was at a pretty high level of quality anyway.
Finding the Way Back’s basketball theme should not dissuade any of the sport’s detractors from watching – the film is predominantly a character study, and deals with universal themes of hard times and, ultimately, redemption. Finding the Way Back is an inspiring tale, told beautifully and performed perfectly. It is one of 2020’s best.