Manchester by the Sea, Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams

Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea (2016) *Somebody Please Drown Me*

Manchester by the Sea, Casey Affleck

Most films I go see in the theater, I go because I have some interest in them.  Around this time of year, I try to go to see most of the award front runners primarily because of this blog (get ready to shoulder some blame), and that’s why I found myself sitting through 147 of the pointless, rambling misery that is Manchester by the Sea rather than standing in the sold out line for Rogue One for the third time.  I don’t want to mince words, because I honestly cannot spend more than a few minutes more dwelling on this pointless wreck.  Manchester is boring, uncomfortable, awkward, unsympathetic, weirdly directed, poorly scored, and all-around the worst film I paid to see in a theater in the last three years.
Kyle Chandler, Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

I didn’t go in with really any expectations, but I’m not generally a fan of musicals so I picked this over La La Land, because right now THOSE are the two pictures leading the pack for Best Picture.  Manchester has a slew of Golden Globe nominations, is all but assured to get Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress, Screenplay and a host of other Oscar nominations, and is sitting at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.  I literally can’t find one good thing to say about this film.  Play the trailer if you want a review on the plot, but I swear to you this movie felt five hours long.  Since this is Amazon’s big attempt to break into movies and I am a longtime Amazon Prime member, I honestly want to call customer service and ask them for a refund.

Manchester by the Sea

It’s worth noting that the three worst films I’ve seen this year: The Witch, Sausage Party, and this are all “guaranteed fresh” by Rotten Tomatoes.  But 97%?  The Empire Strikes Back only got 94%, so occasionally when I say RT is worthless as a metric, this is the kind of thing I’m talking about.  My entire theater was just numb when the lurching mess came to an end, and I wish I had an MP3 of what I heard on the way out because it captured my feelings about this dreck better than I am.  Usually if I see a film I hate this much, I just ignore it (and I have a review back-up of about seven films all better than this to get to), but as bad a year as 2016 has been, it’s been an amazing year for movies.  There have been so many good ones, that if THIS is what ends up getting honored I will punch more things than Casey Affleck does in this film (which is a window and roughly five guys in two different bars out of nowhere and because of the angst he carries…I’m guessing, you have to have sympathetic characters to feel for them and no one in this film is).  I’m giving the film half a point because the actors aren’t bad in the film, they just have nothing to work with and I think if they spent more than three minutes developing Michelle Williams’ character, that might have been a redeeming point.  If I spend any more time thinking about how dumb this  was, I’m going to start to get mad and it’s not worth the aggravation.  Avoid at all costs.

0.5/10 (generously)

13 thoughts on “Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea (2016) *Somebody Please Drown Me*”

  1. I actually enjoyed it up until the end. The end kept me walking out going ,”What the hell was that?!” I thought it was a standout performance from Casey Affleck and the High School Boy (whoever that was). Though Michelle Williams, I thought was terrible and added nothing.

    1. The film’s ending is abysmal, and obviously the point of art is that people see it from different points of view, so I’m glad someone enjoyed this. I thought if I had to watch one more scene of Casey Affleck carpooling his nephew around Manchester, I was going to scream. If they’d spent half that time establishing Affleck’s character instead of just watching him brood and expecting the audience to put everything together from the weird time jumps, I might have felt sorry for someone, which is critical if your entire film depends on your audience feeling something for the characters. I don’t think Casey Affleck can carry a film. I think he’s fine in a supporting role, but not as a lead.

      1. I think you’re definitely getting a mixed bag of dislike/approval all over the internet. The script just seemed unfinished to me. In just my opinion, I think Casey Affleck can carry a film just fine. He’ll probably get more opportunities after this.

      2. The script was a huge part of the problem. The time jumps seemed weird and random and whole subplots could have been cut to make the film tighter. I just didn’t see anything like the film I read reviews about.

  2. I am sorry to hear about your experience seeing this film. Been there. I was interested in seeing this, because I always liked Casey Affleck and consider him the better actor over his brother. My favorite is his character portrayal of Robert Ford. Anyways, I am with you on this and Sausage Party. What a disaster.

  3. So you were really impressed, heh? Great review of yours, thanks. I am also very ambivalent about this film. Sure the acting by Affleck is award-worthy and the filming is superb. But the ‘fight your inner demons’ is cliched and his redemption through family re-connection was predictable from the reading of the will onwards. The flashbacking was frenetic and the finale trite. A bit over-hyped I think.

    1. YES, frenetic is the perfect word to describe the editing in this film. I felt like I was being whipsawed back and forth between equally unlikable timelines. And there’s just no one to root for in this film. Affleck’s a jerk, Williams just cries the entire time she’s on screen, and the kid is an absolute prat. During the 40 minutes of them carpooling places, I just wanted to throw him out of the car. I understand he just lost his dad, but he had an established life of extreme dickishness long before that and just continues being kind of a horrible person. There was a moment; when Affleck finds the antique guns and they sell them to buy a new motor for the boat that I thought this was going to turn into at least something, but no, that never happened. So many good movies last year, why this one is getting so much attention just baffles me.

      1. I enjoyed your colourful descriptions sleeplessdave, and thanks for commenting. While I dont feel as strongly as you about the film’s limitations, it does strike me as odd to group this film amongst the year’s finest. For example, when I see it discussed alongside Moonlight I’m perplexed about what I have missed that others clearly enjoy. Or are other factors at play?

      2. I am completely baffled as to why this film is even in the same discussion with films that came out in 2016 and will still be talked about 50 years from now. Shamefully I have yet to see Moonlight but I plan to correct that shortly.

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