(Otherwise the movie is as crappy and as pretty as it should be.)
Last night some friends and I saw the movie Manchester By the Sea. Have you seen the trailer? It jerks itself off pretty hard.
“Perfect!” — Casey Affleck’s assistant
“The best film I’ve ever seen.” — Ben Affleck’s third grade teacher Lorraine
Just kidding, it quotes the press and the movie got a lot of compliments.
It’s a movie about a Boston-area man who, after losing his brother, finds out that his teenage nephew has been left in his care. Could be something! Potentially charming! But after an entire 20th century’s worth of art, I’m generally fatigued at the prospect of a project that asks us to summon sympathy for white men in pain—especially when that white man is Casey Affleck. Nothing about this movie moved the needle for me interest-wise. Yet somehow, the trailer did its job.
We had two back-to-back rainy days in New York this week, and after the second one I found myself thinking, “The showbusiness industry really seems to like this movie. I should see it so I can know what’s happening at the Oscars.” Isn’t that fucked up? I pulled the trigger and bought a ticket.
The movie is fine. I don’t know that I’d jump right to “miraculous” or even “terrific,” but hey. It has a beginning, a middle, an end. There are stakes. What it did best, in my unnecessarily focused opinion, was present a very vivd world for these people to inhabit. At one point a character needs to be slid into the back of an ambulance on a gurney and the accordion-style legs have trouble collapsing. It happens during an otherwise serious scene and ends up being funny because it’s embarrassing and sad and a little tonally-off. New England. My home.
As I see it, here are the most regionally authentic details:
- Bringing a six pack of Narragansett to a funeral reception.
- Telling your nephew that Misery Island is where you and your wife got married.
- Aboveground power lines cutting through a lowkey gorgeous view that no one ever remarks on at all times.
- The amount of time spent in an old Jeep Cherokee*.
- The amount of sound made by that old Jeep Cherokee’s crappy engine every time it started.
- Not being able to bury your brother til Spring because the ground is frozen and the other graves in the graveyard are patriotic artifacts.
- Patty’s girlfriend’s bedsheets a) being mixed and matched, but more importantly b) featuring a green Tommy Hilfiger fitted sheet that was available in greater New England T.J. Maxx locations like four years ago (I know this because my sister bought and still has the whole set).
- Having a stack of lobster pots outside your front door.
- Crying with the game on.
- Keeping three framed photos on any given surface, minimum.
- Everyone is thin and hot.
A solid showing, as I saw it. I’m not very charmed by watching drunk sadboys schlump around in cinema here in Trump’s America, but it is nice to watch the particulars of a place be really cared for and shined up and held out to us like that.
*Shouts to the god Caitie Delaney.