In the press notes, writer/lead actress Sarah Megan Thomas describes her film as "unabashedly mainstream." She isn't joking. Backwards, about a 30-year-old woman dealing with an existential crisis after missing her chance to make the Olympic rowing team, hints at interesting ideas. But Thomas, as if this were a master class in lazy writing, ignores the human drama; instead she strings together well-worn subplots about cold-hearted moms who hide real concern behind snark and inspirational high school coaches who end up learning from their kids. Director Ben Hickernell's moments of visual prowess are derailed by montage-heavy editing, a cheap budget (the prom looks like it's taking place in someone's house), and a third act twist that turns every character into a self-centered asshole. Even James Van Der Beek, so natural as a high school athletic director that you can't help but wonder if he's actually spent time in that job, can't save this film from drowning.