By: Orlando Sanchez
Starring: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Kyle Chandler, and Michelle Williams
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Get your pitchforks ready, I didn’t love Manchester by the Sea. Wait just one second let me explain myself; I just think I didn’t get it. I understood the plot, loved the heartbreaking performances, and that script my god that script. It’s supposed to be like any film ought to be, rooted in universal truths that any person should understand and can identify with. For everyone else that was clearly the case but for me it brought back memories of two other cinematic experiences.
Manchester by The Sea reminds me an awful lot of two other Best Picture nominated films: A Serious Man and Nebraska. What do those three films have in common? They very much depict insular viewpoints that are hard for me as a Latino to fully understand. I can sympathize and empathize with the characters in these films but I truly don’t understand the complexities of the lives and social settings and worlds that these characters live in. A Serious Man opens up with this Jewish fable being told and is such a thoroughly Jewish movie that it becomes almost too inside baseball for those who don’t practice the faith. Likewise Nebraska revels in its loving depiction and quirkiness of Midwestern white people values that while I can find the charm in it feels oddly exclusionary. Which brings it back to Lonergan’s film, I very much liked a lot about it but I can’t help but feel that it speaks much more to a white audience than it did to me. This isn’t a bad thing; different viewpoints are paramount in Cinema one only needs to look at the works of someone like Spike Lee to see how important they are. Especially in these current times it is crucial that more movies be made depicting characters of different races and socioeconomic backgrounds.
On a positive note I can say with utmost certainty that while I didn’t fully identify with the New England setting and characters, Casey Affleck’s scene in the police station is the single best thing an Affleck has contributed to the art form. Even if he loses come Oscar time his performance will be one for the ages alongside Williams’s soul crushing acting. While I cannot completely endorse the film, strong performances and unparalleled writing make this something that needs to be seen.