A depressed uncle assumes guardianship of his
teenage nephew after his brother dies unexpectedly.
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Written and Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler,
Lucas Hedges, C.J. Wilson, Gretchen Mol, Kara Heyward,
Anna Baryshnikov, Matthew Broderick
Oscar Wins - Best Actor (Casey Affleck), Best Original Screenplay
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor
(Lucas Hedges), Best Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams),
Manchester by the Sea is an Oscar bait movie if there ever was one, but that doesn't mean it isn't trying to tell a meaningful story. Unfortunately, the story in this film is so bogged down by emotional trauma and depression that enjoying it is next to impossible. Watching an emotionally unplugged Casey Affleck trundle through the neighborhoods of Boston dealing with enough baggage to weigh down ten people is not my idea of a swell movie. I think, in the end, this film's biggest sin is that it tries so hard to elicit an emotional response that it becomes stale.
Casey Affleck delivered a performance that I didn't care for until about halfway through, when you realized why he was acting like he was reading cue cards from behind the camera. I suppose he was going for a man who is dealing with so much pain that he essentially shuts off. If that's the case, Affleck nailed it. Michelle Williams was barely in the film, despite scoring a nod for Best Supporting Actress. Still, her brief scenes were stellar and I salute her for playing it so raw. Newcomer Lucas Hedges stole the show, I thought, as a troubled Boston teen dealing with the loss of his father. Overall, the cast feels like real people dealing with real tragedy. I think the many flashbacks were not always as clear as they could've been, as I found myself lost more times than one.
It takes a while to really get sucked into Manchester by the Sea, but once you start caring about the characters, you're in. This film deals with so much tragedy that it seems insincere at times, but it always comes back to feeling real. The ending was fitting, but still depressing. If you were hoping for a happy movie about coming together, go watch La La Land again. This is the one that'll make you cry.