Manchester by the Sea ★★★★

In what could have been alternately titled A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Planning a Funeral, this film presents grief processing as the complicated and confusing ordeal that it is. Perhaps more so than the two lead performances (as great as Casey Affleck is, Wes Anderson alum Lucas Hedges impresses just as much) and a rock solid supporting cast (including an well-timed deployment of Matthew Broderick, of all people), Kenneth Lonergan's script is the real star here, with a strong mix of humor and drama to go with the sharp observations on masculinity and the intriguing sudden flashback structure that doles out revelations at a good clip, no matter how small they may seem in comparison to the larger ones. For such an internal film, it did strike me as being jarring that the soundtrack can frequently be overbearing and loud, both for its overwrought original score and its fairly on-the-nose musical selections. The visual aspect fares a lot better, as the structure lends itself to some rather nice moments of editing, and Lonergan has a nice feel for the texture of the wintry side of the title town. I suspect this one would play a little better on a rewatch, but as it is, it's a damn fine slice of life that does an admirable job of capturing the minutia of small town tragedy and the amusing situations that can arise from the people that have to deal with it.