Tackling many issues involving adolescence, the role of family, and the importance of community, the comedy/drama "The Way Way Back" also may bring on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder flashbacks for anyone who has ever been a teenager.
Painfully and masterfully awkward, "The Way Way Back" revolves around the life of Duncan, a 14-year-old adolescent forced to stay at the beach for the summer with his mom and her boyfriend, Trent, and Trent's slightly older and vastly mean daughter.
The first third of the film focuses solely on Duncan's thwarted relationship with his mom now that Trent has ensconced himself in their lives. This summer at the beach is meant to cement them as a family, but has a foreboding beginning when, on a scale from 1 to 10, Trent judges Duncan as a "3".
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD, effects approximately 8% of all Americans. This might seem like a relatively small percentage, but it is estimated that up to 70% of all adults have experienced a significant traumatic experience at least once in their lives. It's a good bet that the trauma happened during adolescence or, at the very least, during the childhood years, and probably caused by people resembling Trent.
Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks that are emotional in nature, in which survivors often relive their traumatic experiences. For those who have gone through exceptionally difficult family or parental issues, "The Way Way Back" may be tough to take at first.
The film, however, redeems itself after an alarming event between Duncan's mom and Trent, in which (SPOILER ALERT), Duncan's mom appears to choose staying with the evil Trent over protecting Duncan. For those who have ever felt or have actually been abandoned by their mothers, this could also be extremely tough to watch.
This film can also be a vehicle for healing. "The Way Way Back" may refer to the seat located in what is basically the trunk of a station wagon, but it's also an excellent reminder that no matter how lost we get, we can make our way back to where we need to go. Like Duncan, we can all benefit from finding our path out of trauma and into healing.