‘Manchester by the Sea’ is about an uncle who is asked to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies.
It’s not hard to hear the good things that have come from the reviews of this film — especially with Casey Affleck recently winning a Golden Globe for his effort. Writer/Director Kenneth Lonergan’s previous effort in 2011’s ‘Margaret’ was yawn worthy and disappointing with the only true credit to his name was his writing effort in 2002’s ‘Gangs of New York.’ Even going in to ‘Manchester by the Sea’ with an empty slate and an open mind, it’s hard to not come out a little let down. Its a film that attempts to pass as a real life drama only seems to come across as melodramatic and worthy of multiple rolls of your eyes.
The teen lothario that Affleck’s character is set to look after is the main receiver of this eye rolls as he’s unable to bed his second girlfriend without her mother interrupting their activities. The dialogue between him and Affleck’s character quickly becomes a too repeated conversation and their relationship is hardly something that’s worth watching. Michelle Williams is a brilliant actress but hardly had enough screen time, rack up not much more than ten minutes.
It’s like ‘Manchester by the Sea’ is nothing but a series of shots linked together to show characters interweaving themselves through each others lives and overlapped by haunting choir-like music. And if you’re going to use flashbacks, make sure they have meaning or link to something happening currently in the character’s life. If they don’t, what’s the point? What’s the big pay of for them?
The film would make a decent watch if there was a reason given as to why writer Kenneth Lonergan went to such great lengths to write in scenes that didn’t serve the story as well as they could’ve. ‘Manchester by the Sea’ is terribly slow and thin on its dialogue with long scenes where nothing happens at all. Does it deserve to be as critically acclaimed as it has been? No. Is it a decent film? Maybe, if you’re into long winded films where nothing much happens.