Directed by: E.B. Hughes
Written by: E.B. Hughes
Genre: Crime Drama
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The Long Way Back
Freshly minted ex-convict Max (Denny Dale Bess) arrives back in town and finds not much has changed. The drugs are still rampant, and his past debts have not been forgiven or forgotten. The idea of being a "normal" guy haunts and eludes Max, and even getting a decent job seems impossible. Who wants to hire an ex-con for anything but the lowest of low paying jobs? There's no way he'll ever achieve his dream of normality with his past the way it is. Life for someone with a conviction is hard, and getting out even harder.
But for Max, getting a decent job and living a decent life is even more challenging. He's still addicted to drugs and has an even bigger problem. Before getting thrown in the can, he stole a pile of money from his boss Lucius (Mark Borkowski), and Lucius has learned he is out. After a very quick game of cat and mouse, Max meets his old boss to try and parlay some kind of truce. Max knows his life is on the line, and Lucius is not a man to play games with.
After managing to live through his meeting with his old boss, Lucius demands repayment for what Max owes him. That was to be expected, but what Lucius has in mind goes way beyond what Max "wants" to do. His post-jail life has been tough so far, but there has been good. His reacquaintance with long time friend Ziggy (Don Striano) and a chance meeting with Sara (Reyna Kahan) from down the hall. Max thinks he could make a real go at life with Sara by his side, but not if he gets mixed up with Lucius again. The Long Way Back is the perfect example of one's past coming back to haunt them, and filmmaker E.B. Hughes has a knack for this kind of story.
The story here is an age-old one. Man fighting his demons, and his past has been around in one form or another forever, and there's nothing terribly surprising about the plot. But what story is truly unique? Not many, so it comes down to presentation. The Long Way Back works because it takes a well-established narrative and makes it feel somewhat new. We all secretly know where the story is going, and hope the talent in front of the camera can drive home the story. In the case of this title, the cast has ensured a good viewing experience, and it's easy to root for Max and Sara despite Max's shortcomings. The side story of Lucius and his girlfriend adds some spice to the film, and Ziggy works wonders as the friend who actually cares. The only scene I could have done without was the whole visit to a medium. The scene wasn't bad; it just didn't feel like it fit into the story.
A pretty good film overall. The Long Way Back is not overly shiny and is a believable tale of mistakes and possible redemption. It's a darkly atmospheric title that should appeal to even those who never watch independent titles. Most of them anyhow. Three and a half out of five stars.