Manchester By The Sea review by Bobby Blakey
One of the most talked about movies of the year was that of Manchester by the Sea. It not only got a lot of love from critics, it also was racking up the awards throughout the season including star Casey Affleck who won both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his role in the film. Now the film is available to bring home but does it live up to all the accolades or will it not be able to stay afloat for viewers?
Manchester by the Sea follows an uncle who is obliged to return home to care for his nephew after his brother dies. Unknowing he is to be the guardian and struggles with the decision. Throughout the movie he recounts past memories that caused him to leave Manchester and distance himself from his past. This film features a great cast outside of Affleck including Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams, and Tate Donovan with each of them giving a good performance, but it’s still one of those films that will not work for everyone. A lot of the feedback I have heard about the film prior to seeing it was how depressing it was and while there is a heavy tone to the whole thing I just never saw that. Maybe I am just so jaded with everything these days, but I just saw a film about life and it just isn’t always filled with rainbows. The story itself isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but the real life approach to it all makes it more compelling and relatable. What lost me a bit was the way to often use of flashback and forward storytelling. More often than not when films do this it is trying to convey something to tell you why the character is like they are in the moment and that is fine, but it also tends to take you out of the current moment and in turn loses its momentum. This film is a bit better structured with it, but still made it feel a bit all over the place at times to me.
Despite this issue it doesn’t change the fact that it is a good movie. I don’t personally think it is up there with the accolades it has been getting, but I do see the appeal with viewers. Affleck gives a powerful yet subtle performance that is great to watch, but this is something I expect from him as he always does. Maybe that is why the performance wasn’t as stand out for me as I always think he is great in every role he does. The rest of the cast were fine, but I did find myself really hating Kyle Chandler’s character which I think you are kind of supposed. Sadly, I found him to be more annoying through the film than much else and was almost a deal breaker watching the film. To be clear it wasn’t the character that was annoying me as that was clearly supposed to be the case, it was his performance. I don’t know what it was that was off, but it just didn’t work for me.
In the end this is a film that offers up a real life story with very little resolution and while is a great piece of cinema could leave some a bit off. Maybe the hype got me more than usual here because as excited as I was to see this film I was a bit let down in the end. Decide for yourself because films like this could have a different affect on you depending on your mindset at the time and how personal you can connect with it.