Overall Rating: 3/5
December 16, 2016
Dir. Kenneth Lonnergan
Rated R (for language throughout and some sexual content)
Let me start off by saying that I have very mixed feelings about this film. The subject of the film is grief and its affects on the main character. Manchester by the Sea is more of a character study than it is a traditional story. That is to say, this film doesn’t use the most traditional methods of story-telling, and there is a lot (maybe too much) shown instead of told. For some, this will be a plus, but for those less accustomed or preferential to this style, it may be a deal-breaker.
Heavy material, moving performances, and an uncommon authenticity are this film’s strengths. It’s an inspired exercise in story-telling, artful to a fault. It seems to be self-aware at times, but at others it seems to be less calculated. This inconsistency, especially in regards to its comedy, can come across as confusing. Are you supposed to be laughing at the film, or is it laughing at you? You may come away wondering what you really got out of this film.
The Academy certainly loved this film nominating it for six Oscars including Best Picture. It took home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and Casey Affleck won Best Actor for his powerful leading performance.
Affleck’s a great actor, but I wasn’t as impressed by this role as some of his other roles in previous films. In fact, I really thought Viggo Mortensen deserved to win the award this time, but that’s beside the point. The hype surrounding this film has been enormous and it was a huge critical success, but at the end of the day it’s one of those films that I believe was prematurely dubbed a “classic”. Will folks really look back ten years from now and think of Manchester by the Sea as one of the best films of this time?
I don’t believe so.