Written by: Kenneth Lonergan
Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
After his brother dies, Lee, tormented by his past, becomes his nephew's guardian.
This explores how you deal with a tragedy. While Lee has to take care of his nephew, he's never escaped his past. He's trying to do the best he can, and that's all he can ever do.
This is a melancholy film, but it's realistic. All of the interactions between Lee and his nephew feel natural. All of the performances are sharp, Affleck especially. While the movie dangles the mystery of Lee's background a bit too long, all of the flashbacks were natural when they occurred.
If you're expecting a big Hollywood finish you'll be disappointed, but if you want a movie that explores grief, this is it.
Lee is an apartment janitor. It's clear he has a few issues from the start. He's anti-social and unwilling to suffer mistreatment from tenants. When a tenant misunderstands what he means and starts ranting, he tells her he doesn't care what she does. He gets a reprimand from his boss, but refuses to apologize. "For what?" He asks. When his brother dies, he's named as his nephew's guardian to his surprise.
Lee certainly has a reputation in Manchester which explains why he left. Lee seems to have exiled himself as some sort of punishment. With the heavy foreshadowing, I had a good guess of what happened in Lee's past but not how. The movie drags for a bit in the middle because we know something happened and the movie just wants to tease, though when what happened is revealed, the placement is perfect.
A little less foreshadowing would have helped. It becomes clear something tragic happened, and the movie just needs tell us what it is.
This is flashback heavy, but it works with the story. All of the flashbacks sync really well and are organic memories Lee would have at each moment. Of course Lee would recall memories of his brother and family when dealing with the death.
The chemistry between Lee and his nephew Patrick is really good. It's acerbic but completely believable. They are both mourning while Lee figures out what to do. He can't keep Patrick, Patrick knows that, and is wondering where he'll end up. Patrick doesn't want to leave his home town.
Lee is a tragic character. How do you deal with tragedy? It's a pain he'll never get over, and he refuses to try. He's decided to just carry it. The death of his brother overturns his life as he and the viewer delve into his present and past. This isn't a movie that has a distinct destination, it's a look at how Lee carries his past. There isn't a big finish to this movie and Lee's problems aren't magically solved, because the story is completely about the journey.