Manchester By the Sea
A place that once brought joy, now brings misery
Let me escape to anywhere
Anywhere that is not, Manchester By The Sea
Please. If the self-serving, overly serious, glib poem was something you liked, perhaps this film is for you. Others may find better uses for their time. I’m getting an emperor’s new clothes effect with this film, but before I go into that, I’ll go into some of the things that liked.
A troubled man has been given news that his brother has passed. Coming back to his home town to make arrangements, he deals with the new responsibility of taking care of his deceased brother’s nephew.
Despite its subject manner, the film has a sense of humor about things that some may like. It is not overly dramatic in its presentation of grief, and this may be one aspect that the film is lauded for. Instead of relying on over the top performances to convey emotion, I liked the director’s use of classical music to soundtrack most of the scenes. It added a subtle amplification of the drama going on while adding a sense of timelessness to the character’s troubles. Tragedy happens all the time and in this film, we are seeing how these people deal.
I also liked how the director presented flashbacks. They are almost intercut jarringly at points and can be confusing at first. But when taken into account how they are presented, they again add a subtlety to the subject that is a welcome change of pace. Where most others will cut to black with a big title “5 YEARS AGO”, Manchester by the Sea, just cuts and the effect is much more impactful.
Realism is the name of the game here, and unfortunately, I could not connect with the characters, setting, or story. The film runs almost two and a half hours, and while the portrayal of grief will work for some, I found it ultimately boring. Casey Affleck’s performance is functional, good in some scenes, but I cannot see where all the buzz is coming from. People will find a lot of things to praise with Manchester, but like the main character, I felt myself uneasy and wanting to leave the whole time I was there.