Though this movie is well acted, it’s not very well written or edited. What stands out most are the near-constant, pointless scenes. They tend to not go anywhere and this story doesn’t ever find a consistent tone. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be a tragedy, a drama, a comedy, or what. It doesn’t do any of those things correctly and if it does it doesn’t keep that same fluidity you’d expect from anything in those genres. As far as I can tell this is just trying to be true-to-life and nothing else, which I just don’t think works as a genre all its own.
This is the story of a man who after his own tragedies, his brother dies and he has to look after his nephew. It tells its story non-linearly, but in ways where you’re not always sure if what you’re looking at is happening in the present or the past until later on in the movie. The first twenty minutes of them doing this was fine and it seemed to be telling a consistent story until Lee, the main character, decides to go back to Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, and everything basically goes out the window. It doesn’t really tell a consistent story and all the scenes just seem like completely random events that happen to Lee for seemingly no reason. But I guess “life is just like that” is the message of this movie. Something they didn’t have to spend 2 hours and 15 minutes to pound into my skull.
I’m fine with realism in movies, but if you have a movie that’s realistic you better also be telling a story. This movie is not a story, it’s just inconsistent scenes that feels more like they’re the scenes you would cut out of regular movies and they’ve been thrown together here for our non-enjoyment. If this movie is supposed to be a tragedy, just because your movie has tragic moments in it does not make it a tragedy. One of my professors once told me that “a comedy is meant to show how ridiculous humans are, but tragedies are meant to show how noble humans are.” There’s no nobleness here. And most of the humanity has been cut out of this movie as well. Instead we’re left with these broken people who don’t seem to care about anything except when they’re being completely selfish.
Also, it kind of feels like a soap opera script that everyone involved just tried to act so hard to cover up. Another professor once told me “you can make a bad movie out of a good script, but you can’t make a good movie out of bad script.” I think that’s true, and I think that shows here. Though everyone acts their pants off, no one can cover up the initial schlock.
Why you should watch it before you die: Because you’re a brainwashed tool created by the establishment.
+5: Good acting
-3: Nothing else is good