Manchester by the Sea ★★★★


Second viewing, up from 69. Wish there were a means of comparing the Sundance cut to the release cut, as I suspect Lonergan re-edited the key flashback in a way that "solved" the problem I initially had with it, but also suspect that my memory may be playing tricks on me. Either way, any feeling of structural clumsiness vanished, with necessary dissonance provided by repeated abrupt jumps back to Josh Hamilton's office, and then back to the nightmare, and then back to the office, and then etc. (There are at least half a dozen such jumps in the sequence now, which is like four more than I remember from January.) Also warmed to Hedges' performance, though I still think he whiffs his panic attack at the freezer (and that scene is a little on the nose for Lonergan in general). Obliterated again by Randy asking Lee if they can maybe have lunch sometime, which may be the most viscerally upsetting three minutes of cinema I've ever seen. My big reservation remains the use of opera to accompany montage, which I don't like in the extended version of Margaret, either. As a Twitter debate clarified, it's a melodramatic element in a film that otherwise serves as the antithesis of melodrama; no doubt that's intentional counterpoint, but it just feels a bit desperate to me. There's no need for hype here.

[And here's my formal review for Las Vegas Weekly.]