Manchester by the Sea
All in all, this was a beautiful, subtle and calm New England drama with great actors and beautiful pictures. There are some shortcomings in the character development which leaves this movie at a quality level of just very good when it certainly had the potential to be more than that. Casey Affleck's performance (alongside with the remaining cast) was marvelous but I would not already call it a straight shot to winning the Academy Award - there are still some strong contenders out there (which I still have to see and judge - so stay tuned).
Acting
Directing
Cinematography
Script
Timeless
The Good
  • Great acting by the entire cast
  • Calm and realistic family drama
  • New England, New England, New England
The Bad
  • Somewhat lacking character exploration
  • Really really bleak movie
4.3Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

Time for the next Oscar contender of 2017 – a lot had been written about Casey Affleck’s stellar and oscarworthy performance – so the Erwinreviews crew had to check it out. Aside from that, obviously every New England movie automatically is very high on the list.

Spoiler alert

After coming out of the theater, my initial reaction is somewhat mixed. The movie was intentionally bleak and managed to transport its bleakness to the audience – and when the credits started rolling, I felt kind of nothing. It was neither happiness nor sadness nor anger – kind of nothing. I do believe that this was an intentional atmosphere the filmmakers wanted to create – so one could say mission accomplished. Having said that, I did not really like that feeling immediately after coming out of the theater. Let me explain why – with dramas of that caliber, I expect some sort of character development or exploration throughout the movie but in my opinion, Casey Affleck’s character – who was the focal point of this film – did not really develop that much, he was sad and empty from start to finish with certain amplitudes into each direction throughout but his character did not “develop” enough for me (again maybe something fully intentional).

Courtesy of http://fandango.com

Courtesy of http://fandango.com

In order to explore, how Casey Affleck’s turned into such a sad debbie downer, the movie did quite effectively use the method of backflashes to explain his backstory of both the relationship to his brother as well as his ex-wife. Meanwhile, the present storyline explored the relationship between him and his nephew Patrick (who I delivered an excellent performance). One of the shortcomings of this exploration which I think could have served the movie well was the relationship between Michelle Williams’ and Casey Affleck’s character; what I saw kept longing me for more and I do feel that a deeper exploration would have significantly helped to make the movie more interesting and explained Casey Affleck’s state of mind much better. Having said all that, there has been one night of sleep and some time for more reflection between the movie and myself. By now, I have learned to cope better with the bleakness of the movie because – even though I wasn’t particularly satisfied with the ending and some parts of the character development – it is an honest and very realistic portrayal of family drama. It doesn’t follow any movie cliches to draw a more beautiful picture of the reality, the main character doesn’t have the aha-moment in the last parts of the movie when he all of a sudden turns into a loving uncle who is totally game on to live up to the challenge. The events leading up to where Casey Affleck’s character is today were so devastating that he will probably never become the person he used to be. And even though, I am not a family father, I can fully empathize with his situation and everything he is going through; whereas you keep wondering what made him the man he is, once the scene is of the movie is shown in a flashback, you just “gulp” and know; ok now I understand the person he is. Having  said all these things about the strengths and weaknesses of the character development in the movie, I did really enjoy the intentional calmness of the movie – somewhat mirroring a quiet day on the New England coastline. From start to finish, the movie is one thing above all – quiet. The movie wants to be very calm and subtle in all its elements, and I believe it is very successful in doing so. All the structural elements are well-chosen and perfectly executed. Aside from the good but not perfect character portrayals, the movie is an architecturally solid piece of art – the cinematography is as beautiful as its motive (i.e. The New England coastline) carried by very calm music and a very steady hand in the director’s chairs. 

All in all, this was a beautiful, subtle and calm New England drama with great actors and beautiful pictures. There are some shortcomings in the character development which leaves this movie at a quality level of just very good when it certainly had the potential to be more than that. Casey Affleck’s performance (alongside with the remaining cast) was marvelous but I would not already call it a straight shot to winning the Academy Award – there are still some strong contenders out there (which I still have to see and judge – so stay tuned).

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