This is a film that came across my path earlier this week and let me tell you right now, if you are having a bad day, this is probably the last film you should be watching. Not because Back Fork is a terrible film, but it’s an emotionally stressful tale of loss and addiction you may not be able to handle. We all have been through loss and most of us have dealt with addiction either directly or indirectly, but watching both of those things on screen is bound to be a feel bad time despite how well made it is.
Back Fork is a story about a small family in West Virginia, one day their daughter tragically dies and their lives are thrown into a deep spiral. Waylon (Stewart) refuses to deal with his daughter’s death and his disconnect with his wife destroys their marriage. Meanwhile, Waylon tries his best to help his sister overcome her opioid addiction, but he can barely manage his own drug problem which is putting him one step away from losing all everything else in his life.
Josh Stewart, who pulls triple duty of starring, writing, and directing centralizes his story on a blue collar worker who has hit a rough patch fighting his demons. However, like most people in life, that battle isn’t easy to win and some simply don’t. The realism is what makes this a stand out film, the bare-bones feel of the subject matter fits like a glove with the authentic cinematography and visual setting of small town West Virginia. Stewart carries this story as a man who slowly falls into a rock bottom, the character is tragic, but relatable because at it’s core, it’s the story of a man who could be anyone and is anyone under the same circumstances.
The story isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but it’s simple and forward delivery is makes it an early pick for the best drama of the year. Back Fork is a teak jerker and possibly a wake up call for many Americans.