The Way Back Review

The Way Back is more than your average sports film. Yes, it feels all too familiar but what really makes it stand out, is the integration of Coach Cunningham’s backstory and how it affected his outlook when coaching.

Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) used to play basketball in high school. He was the all star player and was at the top of his game. After a series of poor decisions, that were made to spite his own father, Jack ended up being in a spot he never thought he’d be in. It’s true when people say that the child pays, for the sins of the father. It’s a vicious cycle and it takes one small change, to break the cycle.

Gavin O’Connor is a fantastic director and I really enjoy his style. The Way Back felt like a tight knit sports drama, while the observational style in the camerawork, felt like I was watching a documentary. The story was incredibly realistic and that’s why it pulled on the heartstrings. More importantly, O’Connor always manages to slowly peel back the layers of his characters, making the story progression more impactful. It’s a slow burn but it’s definitely effective.

Jack Cunningham is a very strong character. He’s subdued, most of his fighting is internal and his love of basketball makes him regain control of his life. This is also Ben Affleck’s best performance to date. It could be because the subject matter is close to him, so he could relate to Cunningham a bit more, but nonetheless, it’s incredibly moving. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play such a vulnerable character. It’s heartbreaking to watch because of how personal this film is to him. Affleck and O’Connor work very well together and this is their best collaboration yet.

Cunningham’s backstory, is more complex than the trailers lead on. As the story unfolds, his demons creep out and his past continues to haunt him because he represses his pain. Once he becomes a Coach and he’s around teenagers, with the same love for basketball, that he once had, he begins to reflect on his life. It’s an internal performance from Affleck but when he’s on the court with his team, that’s when the magic happens and I couldn’t have been happier to see him like that.

Affleck is the driving force of this film and it’s such a great sports film. The whole team was great and each of them had strong backstories. It’s all about being a role model to these kids and Cunningham did that without trying to be one. Sometimes you may feel small and think that your presence doesn’t affect anyone because that’s the darkness of doubt overpowering your mind. You may not think here are people who love and appreciate your existence, but there are.

It’s strong subject matter of alcoholism was executed quite well throughout. The way O’Connor showed the abuse of alcohol was unsettling but effective. No one had to say a word, but seeing any drink in Cunningham’s hand made me sad. It’s difficult to sit through because of how well they showed the alcoholism. Majority of the time the alcoholism is discussed but never shown and that’s why The Way Back is so well done.

I’m incredibly proud of Ben Affleck and how he chose this film to be a catharsis for his own suffering. The Way Back is one of his best, if not his BEST performance and he should be recognized for this. It’s hard to be vocal about your own pain and suffering and it’s a big step to openly discuss it with the world.

The Invisible Man Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

The Invisible Man is a film that has left me speechless.

Leigh Whannell developed a story that suited the lore of the title character so well. It’s definitely a departure from the original monster movie and it’s a modernized take on the meaning of being “The Invisible Man”.

Not only did Whannell write a fantastic story, he also created a chilling, isolated atmosphere that affected his protagonist, as well as the audience. You feel everything with Cecelia because of the framing and camera movements, it feels as if you’re stuck with her on this journey. The sound design is also something that flowed nicely throughout the film and was utilized at the right moments, for dramatic effect.

The Invisible Man is about a woman, named Cecelia (Elisabeth Moss), who attempts to leave her abuser. As her story unfolds, she discusses her trauma and what she went through with Adrian (Oliver Jackson – Cohen). Cecelia goes to live with her friend James (Aldis Hodge), who also happens to be a police officer. Cecelia then suffers from PTSD from her time spent locked up with her ex-boyfriend. Whannell handles the subject matter quite well and addresses the issue, of no one believing women, in a frustrating and exaggerated way.

The way I interpreted the meaning of “The Invisible Man” in regards to this particular story was, that even if someone, who was a victim manages to leave their abuser, they will always be with them. They may not physically be present but the trauma will leave its mark in the most brutal way. Whannell redesigned the meaning of this monster and the story is written, so that we can understand and empathize with Cecelia, as she tries to heal and overcome this nightmare.

Elisabeth Moss gave one of the best performances of her career AND of the year so far. From the very first moment Cecelia opens her eyes at the start of the film, she captures you and holds you with her until she closes them at the end of this film. Everything about her performance was absolute perfection, she made you feel everything with her and it was painful to sit through. It was frustrating majority of the time because no one believed her and that was the point of this film, to make you understand what victims of abuse go through.

The Invisible Man is poignant, brutal and rough to sit through. It is a film that the message demands to be heard. It’s almost difficult to discuss it with anyone, unless they’ve seen it because you it’s hard not to spoil it. Every situation was strategically placed and the execution of the scenes involving “The Invisible Man” were shot extremely well, with the help of fantastic special effects.