Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Manchester by the Sea Review
It's hard to do this movie justice in a spoiler-free review because the heart and soul of what makes it so great is all in the second half, but I'm going to do my best because I definitely have no desire to spoil this film. Doing so in this instance would completely ruin the emotional impact that the film would have on you while you watch. So I plan on staying away from all that while still getting my point across. This will be a fun challenge. Right off the bat I will say that this is not necessarily a movie that I can recommend everyone rush out and see. It's a movie that cuts deep and touches on some very serious and sensitive subjects in a brutally honest way. It's a movie that will punch you in the gut pretty hard and require a few boxes of tissues to get through. So while with "La La Land" I recommend that everyone go see it because it's a universally targeted movie on the light side of PG-13, "Manchester by the Sea" is not quite the same way. I don't want to say proceed with caution because there's nothing super graphic or disturbing. This is just a very heavy movie emotionally. Bring a box of tissues and prepare yourself for quite the emotionally charged ride.
Casey Affleck is the actor who plays the uncle and the story of his character is a really interesting story to follow here. Here is a man who works as a janitor, is all alone and super depressed. He's not a good person. He's not a good employee. He's not a good uncle. But at the same time, as we are watching this man suffering his way through life, we are also treated to flashbacks of what happened to him. He had everything. He was married to a beautiful wife, played by Michelle Williams. He had a few beautiful young children. He had a lot of good friends. He had a good job. But yet he seemed to take all of that for granted. This is a thing that happens to a lot of people. When they experience a lot of success, they bask in that success and sometimes start drifting off into ways that aren't commendable. You don't realize how good you have things until they are taken away from you. But given that you see him in the present in such a pathetic state of being and you are seeing these flashbacks of him as a happy, successful individual, you know something is coming. Something dramatic happened to this man and we're just waiting to learn what that thing was. There comes a moment in this movie where the two timelines cross and it caused my jaw to drop.
That's as close as I'm getting to that. In a year where Ben Affleck has gotten a lot of deserved press with his phenomenal performance at Batman in "Batman v. Superman," Casey Affleck comes in at the end of the year and steals all the glory away from his older brother. For me anyways. I've got to say that Casey Affleck gives a career defining performance. I've always known that he's existed, but I don't think he's ever given a performance that jumped out to me and made me think that this is a man to watch out for. But he has now. Whenever anyone asks me about Casey Affleck and what he's done, I'm going to point them to "Manchester by the Sea," because he gives an absolutely phenomenal performance. The character he's asked to play is a very complex character that's gone through a whole heck of a lot. There is a ton of emotion required for both the past and the present. It's essentially two different characters that he's playing and he has to be able to capture the full spectrum of both sides of his situation and the final result is a very human performance where you feel for him. I haven't seen every performance yet this year, and there's a few major ones that I have to get to, but so far Casey Affleck has given my personal favorite performance by an actor in 2016.
I've just barely scratched the surface with this movie, yet I don't really feel like diving any deeper. This is an instance where I could do a spoiler review and it would be a much different, more complete review, but since I'm not doing that, you're just going to have to trust me that there's some incredible things that happen in this movie that have caused me to stop and ponder quite a bit on life and the human experience over this past month. Here we have a man that's gone through something crazy that's ruined his life. Now he has to figure out how to handle the situation with him being named guardian over his nephew, who is acting like a typical high school student who clashes quite a bit with his uncle. It's a moving relationship with fascinating character arcs. Crazy things happen in the movie that cause things to get real. The movie punches you in the gut pretty hard and sends you reeling throughout the second half of the movie. Then when you stop and think about things, you realize that this is a very human story that will parallel a lot of people's lives and has themes that are quite profound. All topped off by three excellent performances from Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges. This is an absolutely phenomenal film that I feel comfortable awarding a 10/10.