I have seen a movie in a theater on Christmas day every year since 1989 and “Steel Magnolias”. Back on Christmas Day of 2016 my mom, my husband and myself saw “Manchester by the Sea”.
I absolutely adored Kenneth Longergan’s 2000 film “You Can Count on Me” (not only did it introduce me to the amazing and sexy Mark Ruffalo but it also is one of the best brother sister films ever made) and for that reason I was very interested and excited to see this film.
There are times you go into a movie with high hopes and walk out disappointed. That is not what happened with this film. The movie was everything I wanted it to be. It was a film for grown-ups about adult life, complicated family relationships, ghosts that you can never quite shake and finding strength in the family you have (even if it’s not the family you thought you would have). Kenneth Longergan’s direction is first rate. He is able to capture the subtle and nuanced moments of life without making a boring film and the dialogue is fantastic.
As good as the direction and writing is this film depends on the performances of the three Oscar nominated actors, especially since the characters in this film are not without significant flaws. After nearly twenty years in the shadow of his brother and his famous friend Casey Affleck has found the role of a lifetime that allows him to step into the spotlight and claim his place as a top notch Gen X actor.
Make no mistake his role as Lee is a tricky one. Lee is a deeply unhappy man because of one giant mistake he made in the past. What makes this role so tricky is that although you can tell he is forever sorry for his past his mistake was sizable enough that some would consider it unforgivable. Yet, somehow Casey Affleck is able to create a character that you can care about without giving him a free pass. It is a wonderful performance that deserves an Oscar. Also with a tricky role is Lucas Hedges as Lee’s nephew Patrick. Patrick is a teenage boy dealing with a giant loss and his own complicated past but his is also not without his flaws. In the hands of the wrong actor Patrick could come off as a total douche-bag but Hedges, like Affleck, manages to take flawed character and make him three dimensional.
Michelle Williams has less screen time that I was expecting as Lee’s ex-wife Randi but she makes the most out of every second she’s on screen and knocks her role out of the park. I have loved Michelle Williams ever since the pilot of “Dawson’s Creek” and I’m so glad that she can now count herself among the group of actors who have now been nominated for an Academy Award four times.
Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol and Matthew Broderick are all good in their small roles.
I really enjoyed this movie and I highly, highly encourage anybody who likes quality film making with great acting to check it out while it is still in theaters.
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Here is a description:
Justin Gomez and his sister, Terri, have never been close. Separated by nine years and distant in adulthood, Justin and Terri have little in common, except for the love of her three children. In the days before they embark on a road trip to visit the father that once abandoned them and their now deceased mother, both Terri and Justin are dealing with unexpected changes in their lives. Justin surprisingly realizes he might want more than a series of one night stands after a first date goes unexpectedly well. After a lifetime of being a strong type A personality, Terri is forced to confront the reality of the end of her marriage. As they hit the road, with Terri’s children in tow, they find themselves forced to rely on and confide in each other following a devastating event. Confronted with memories from the past and challenges from the present, Terri and Justin must dig deep and unearth the truth about themselves and their parents in order to build a new family based on their love for each other.