Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Congrats to Casey Affleck on finally getting the role he truly deserves. He’s often cast in movies where he doesn’t really deliver, playing aggressive, self-righteous characters that should be left to more bro-y actors. In Manchester by the Sea, he gets to be aggressive, too, but it is a futile aggression. Affleck has this creepy intensity that I have been hoping to see again since The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007). Manchester by the Sea, in which each performance, no matter how small, is superbly acted, is the perfect vehicle for him.
Despite the raving reviews, I should note that Manchester by the Sea is not a perfect movie: sometimes the dialogue feels just a tad too scripted, and even though it gives ample room for each scene to develop, it often feels like it could go just one step further. Which is also a huge compliment, because how often do you want a 2+ hour long movie to go on and on?
Because it’s hard not to love this movie. Manchester by the Sea takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions, but offers no catharsis. It is both darkly funny and depressingly sad, but every time you want to laugh out loud or start bawling your eyes out, something happens that lessens the overwhelming reaction: a sarcastic comment, a vibrating cell phone, a mechanical malfunction, bureaucracy… If that’s not a perfect metaphor for life, I don’t know what is.
PS: The trailer is terrible and not at all what this movie deserves.