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Apr 11, 2017

Manchester by the Sea

Casey Affleck was born into this role. He did not need to put any extra effort to get into the persona of the out-of-luck down-in-the-dump New England janitor he plays in Manchester by the Sea. Well, it is a good role to be born into, for it won him the best actor Oscar this year. Matt Damon, you almost got your elusive best actor Oscar on this, if only you had dates.

Somehow, I am not feeling Affleck’s tragedy. Can’t get those tears to come even after watching those life-killing losses being inflicted on his character. Maybe because the film cuts in and out of past and present without much warning. Just as you are about to empathize with his wretched life you are yanked away into a different time period. Stylistically the random cuts should not stand in the way of my understanding and empathy for the main character’s depression and despair. 

Or could it be because the original tragedy and the relationships snuffed out by it, which led to this bluesy state of affairs was not given a lot of screen time? Was it because the director, Kenneth Lonergan (who appears in a cameo) didn't want the movie to end up being another tear-jerker but rather a long and drawn out character study of masculine depression?

Hmm… yes maybe that's why I cannot empathize, it is a very masculine movie. I am using the term masculine here as the other gender for feminine.All the main characters are male in a tale about a man dealing with depression the way the men would. Blue-grey New England winter provides the right grim backdrop against which this almost-European movie made by Amazon in Hollywood languidly unravels. 

The only time I could almost figure out the depths of Affleck's loss and his subsequent moodiness (which is 99% of the film) is when Michelle Williams (who plays Affleck's wife and then his ex) breaks down explaining her side of the tragedy. The trouble is actually with me, I am just not man enough to understand this movie.