Review: Manchester By the Sea

Manchester by the zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) works as a janitor in Boston and mostly keeps to himself. He doesn't do small talk, he spends a decent amount of time drinking. When his older brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies, he finds himself made the legal guardian of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges) but he's not ready to commit to something that big. 

When you go into a movie that you know is going to be a downer, you expect to at least be blown away by the acting and the story. Manchester by the Sea crawls in a perfectly straight line. No ups or down. There's no gigantic epiphany for Lee. He doesn't change in a big way at the end of the film, he simple exists in his sadness. That's what this is. Sometimes terrible things happen, and sometimes you don't get the help to cope. 

Affleck is good, but he has two emotions. Drunkingly hyper in his flashbacks, zombie in his present. I kept waiting for a moment where he breaks down and displays some dramatic sorrow but that never happens. He cries for a second with his head down once. Michelle William's gets one of those moments. Actually, she's the only one breathing feeling into this otherwise cold movie. I felt for Randi. She's Lee's ex wife and (you guessed it) terrible things happened to them. Hedges also is allotted a single moment of dramatic acting display, otherwise he's a normal, horny, sarcastic teenager, though some of this quips were welcomed during the film's two hour run time which really felt like four. 

I wish I could've loved this movie the way the critics seem to. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "Sharks don't swim in schools!" - Young Patrick (Ben O'Brien) 

20 comments:

  1. YES! THANK YOU! I KNEW WE WOULD AGREE ON THIS! My boyfriend made a very excellent point that he learned from his professor in film school...Day in the life films are a dime a dozen, and there has to be a real concrete story there for it to succeed. Manchester had a wee bit of a story, but it was totally lifeless. It was flat. No ups nor downs. Just nothingness. I don't get the hype...I really don't. I couldn't even review this, because I didn't know where to begin.

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    1. It IS so flat. I'm not surprised Oscar voters love this, but I was surprised that there wasn't more to it. The story itself I thought was good (even though the part with Lee's kids felt like overkill) but they didn't try to do anything with it.

      I also have to rescind my kudos for Hedges getting a SAG nom. I was happy because he's young, but nah. He does not deserve one.

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    2. I think the hype extends from the balls this movie has in terms of NOT packaging this thing up with a pretty bow and having its demolished lead character "get better" or "find himself", etc. This film is top few of the year for me as of now. I have never seen a movie so intelligent in how grief truly affects people. Lee Chandler actually can't change, at least not in the time frame of this movie. And he may never be able to...period. That's life. Plus, Casey Affleck straight kills in this role. That scene with Michele Williams. You know...the one. Oh my God! Screen acting at its absolute finest with directing to get it there. That scene alone will win it the Oscars it may very well get. My review is on deck.

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    3. Yes that is life, but it doesn't make for an interesting movie. lol

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  2. Mwahahaha!! I had been hearing mixed reviews about this one and most of the complaints was that it was boring. Well I don't feel so bad that I missed the press screening then. Boy it's interesting how the critics seem to love very s-l-o-w movies. 'Certain Women' is extremely slow as well and the critics LOVED that too.

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    1. I get liking slow. Moonlight is pretty slow, and that's one of my favorites of the year. But NOTHING happens lol.

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  3. Wow, I guess it didn't work for you as it did for me. Sorry. I guess I do like the slower films more as I just think of it as something different from what we usually see.

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    1. It's not that I dislike slower or quieter films, I just like it when something actually happens in them. I think this had a lot of potential but they just dropped the ball.

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  4. I really liked this movie. I can see why some wouldn't because of how slow it is. But I didn't mind its length and I also loved the performances.

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  5. I was amazed at how impressive the film was (to me) without many huge acting moments. It was brutally honest--brutally, brutally honest. Affleck and Lucas Hedges had great chemistry. Wish you would have liked it!

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    1. I do too. This is not what I wanted to get out of this film. lol

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  6. Nice review! I'm so tired of the run-of-the-mill movies where dudes suffer a tragedy and then struggle to have an existential crisis. They're just so bland. I'm delaying seeing this one as long as possible until Oscar season gets closer.

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    1. I mean, Lee has a pretty good reason to be having a crisis, I just wish he would've gotten help.

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  7. Hehe, I always have a chuckle reading your posts. Interesting that all the critics seem to love this. Don't know when I'll have a chance to see it, chance are though I'll pass though. It sounds very... well, flat, like others have said

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    1. lol thanks. Yeah, I wish I could've loved it like everyone else did.

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  8. This is THE most Straight White Male movie EVER lol. I honestly feel like that's why I don't like it as much as all the (mostly straight, white, male) critics seem to. I just don't get it. Of course, much like Loving, the thing that makes this movie most interesting is also it's biggest downfall. HOWEVER, Loving had the virtue of two totally dynamic, compelling lead performances, whereas this has... lots of Boston accents lol. I mean, I think Affleck was good, but he has pretty much one note to play. He plays it well, but in what universe does that qualify anyone for Best Actor honors? Michelle Williams was great. Their scenes together were the absolute best in the movie. There's a lot of great craft in this, and I probably like it a little bit more than you did (I'd probably grade it a B), but the over-the-moon praise for it baffles me.

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    1. lol I didn't look at it that way, but you're right. Michelle Williams was better than Affleck because she actually got to show more. I like that you brought up Loving, that's another slow movie but it's SO much better.

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  9. I kind of refuse to see this because people are calling it a masterpiece and I don't see how it could be.

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