Off His Back – 

March 4, 2020 – There is an origin story for his current predicament, one that is both universal and specific, the film never allows that trauma to excuse or justify his behavior. Jack is surrounded by people who have suffered without succumbing. The assistant coach (Al Madrigal) has a mother dying from multiple sclerosis, while Jack’s wife is suffering every bit as much as he while still making the effort to move on. The whole “can Jack get this team to the playoffs” thread is less a culmination of Jack’s personal growth than a distraction from it. That structural choice actually renders the game scenes incredibly suspenseful, since their outcome is always in question. 

We do learn the reasons for Jack’s strained relationships, as well as the reason he walked away from basketball, and they resonate both in their details and in the matter-of-fact manner of their on-screen presentation. Yes, he bonds with the kids, but not to such an extent that they’d consider him a friend. And, yes… 


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