I knew going into Manchester by the Sea that it was one of the most critically acclaimed American movies of the century so far but I was still somehow surprised by how blown away I was.
Kenneth Lonergan has made a fantastic film about family, grief, and how easy it is to push people away when we’re hurting. It’s one of 2016’s best films not because it has any particularly new ideas or innovative style but simply because it’s refreshingly honest.
Casey Affleck (believe the hype, he kills it in this) plays Lee Chandler, a reclusive janitor who returns to his hometown after the sudden death of his brother (played by Kyle Chandler). Lee is surprised to learn that he will need to be staying home a lot longer than he had planned when he discovers that his brother’s will has named him as the guardian of his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges). Losing a brother and raising a grieving teenager is further complicated by the memories of unspeakable pain and tragedy that his hometown holds.
Manchester by the Sea isn’t always pleasant but, with its sense of dark humour, never feels like a chore. Lonergan is an expert at finding humour in the unlikeliest of situations without it ever feeling forced. Actually, nothing really feels forced. It’ll make you feel powerful emotions without resorting to sentimentality. Even its non-linear structure doesn’t feel like a gimmick.
And there’s not a bad performance to speak of. Affleck has never been better and his scenes with Hedges are priceless. 2016 Golden Globe nominee Michelle Williams makes great use of her limited screen time as Lee’s ex-wife in her emotionally rawest performances in years.
Go see it!
I’m hearing lots of good things about this one.
I know, and this is one of the few times that I heard all the hype and wasn’t disappointed when I actually saw it.
I knew you would give a good review of this film and now I know what it’s about. It sounds quite good and I want to see it.
This is a great movie as I think Kenneth Lonergan might have a shot at Best Original Screenplay as I hope Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, and Michelle Williams get nominated.
Good review. I want to see this movie (everyone says its good), but my local theater isn’t playing it yet. Hopefully I’ll get to see it soon.
This sounds really, really good!
I agree. I don’t like to throw words around like “masterpiece” – but in this case, I would.
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Sounds great, will put it on the ‘to do’ list! 🙂
(Also am liking the advert for mini drones under your review 🙂 )
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I am so going to see this! Thanks Matt!
Welcome back, stranger! Looking forward to seeing this one. Glad to hear you thought it was so great. I have high hopes.
Yes, we need to see this pronto. I hate that Affleck has given me a reason to feel conflicted about this movie. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it but I can’t imagine it topping La La Land for me. That one still makes me sing.
I want to see this one
Yay, I have this on my list to see soon! I have to leave my small town movie theatre and go to Columbus Ohio to see this.
Matt, you gave a fine review without revealing too much. I like Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams. Looking forward to this.
Happy Holidays to you, Matt! and to all xo
I’m really very interested in this one. I like the Affleck chap a lot – he can be a bit unsettling, but he’s really captivating.
As for Williams, she’s brilliant too, so glad she shows up for a bit.
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I’m glad you liked it so much Matt, as I must admit to some ambivalence. I kept waiting for something original to happen, something unexpected, but the narrative arc was visible within the first quarter and even Affleck’s brilliant acting and fabulous cinematography did not lift the story beyond cliches.
WOW! I HOPE EVERYONE ENJOYS IT SO MUCH THAT THEY GET TO EXPERIENCE THE REALITY OF THE SHOW FOR THEMSELVES IN THEIR REAL LIFE. I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THIS AWESOME NIGHTMARE ENDING MOVIE. AT LEAST IT HAS AN END…
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