When writing about Ben Affleck and his film, The Way Back, the temptation of the art-imitating-life cliché is nigh on impossible to resist.
The hero (in the film's case, a former high school basketball star) — isolated, divorced and believing his peak is long behind him — clings white-knuckled to alcohol until the craft he once excelled in beckons with a shot at redemption.
Watch: "I didn't want to get divorced". Ben Affleck's reckoning.
Recently released in Australia on Netflix, The Way Back was deeply familiar to the actor and recovering addict.
The well of promotional interviews he gave earlier this year was filled with words like 'cathartic', 'close to home' and 'therapeutic'.
"Sometimes just feeling those feelings again purges them a little bit and frees you a little bit," the 48-year-old told Associated Press back in February.
"This movie was hard to make. Sometimes it was painful. And sometimes I was embarrassed. And sometimes I couldn’t believe my life had any similarity to this."
The legacy of addiction.
The first time Ben Affleck encountered Alcoholics Anonymous he was a child growing up in Massachusetts. His father had a crippling addiction — “bottom of the barrel, terrible”, as Affleck’s younger brother and fellow actor, Casey, once described it.
To help them understand, their mother sent them to Alateen, a US program that runs workshops for young people affected by a relative’s drinking.
"She’d drive us across town to a church and we’d sit in this room with other kids we didn’t know," Casey recalled during an acceptance speech at the 2017 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
"The people who were running it would walk us through these exercises basically reenacting what was happening at home. So you’d watch these other kids behaving like their drunk mum or dad, and yelling and throwing things and hitting them and so forth, and then you’d get up and do your thing. I was 9 years old. That was the first acting I ever did."