Wendy’s review published on Letterboxd :
You know those tiny seconds between the time when the final frames of a movie fade to black and the time when the movie credits first appear on-screen? Yeah. For this movie, those seconds were the longest seconds in my entire month.
Holy fucking shit, this movie was awful. I don't see how it's award-winning at all. Casey Affleck essentially plays a wooden board the entire damn movie. A wooden board to match the wooden house the movie is set in. He is 90% expressionless in this entire movie. 10% is when his character actually gives a shit, so Casey Affleck blinks a lot to make the scene less awkward. The full 90% though, is just um, Casey Affleck staring blankly at [insert character name here] and delivering his lines in a flat lifeless manner.
Michelle Williams tries though. In fact, I'd say she tries a little too hard. Because when a talent like her is in a movie with a wooden board, her performance actually distracts you from the main actor. It distracts you a lot. It's almost refreshing too. Like, "oh, so this is what a movie would look like when you cast an award-winning actress with a tree. I gotta wake up to see this after all."
Lucas Hedges is meh. No fault of his own. He was probably directed to talk over and interrupt Casey Affleck in that way.
The music was incredibly distracting. I have no idea if the sound editor did this on purpose or what, but sometimes the music would be louder than the dialogue, and then sometimes the dialogue would sound disconnected from the ambient noises. Was that on purpose? I don't know.
As for the overall story/script... I honestly don't know where to start. Left this bit towards the end of my ramble because I don't know how else to say "this is the most Caucasian Oscar-buzzy movie this year, but that's OK because movie critics are mostly Caucasian males anyway". Ha ha, har har.
I was the first one out of my seat after the credits appeared. The entire cinema was sniffling/crying, and I just sat there the whole 137 minutes wondering if my tear ducts needed repair or something. (I cry so easily during movies! Bawled at the end of Toy Story 3 ffs, why didn't I even tear up?! I really don't know. Genuine question! This just did not make me cry. First time in a movie where the entire audience was crying but I wasn't.) But yes, just outright bolted out of the cinema. Ugh.
Anyway, the 1.5 star rating is for the actually well produced/scripted plot device near the middle of the movie. The one that explains the town gossip and why Casey Affleck's character is the way he is. That was good.
Cheer up, you guys. Even if I rated this 1.5 stars, Manchester by the Sea will still win all the awards. The Academy is still 90% white and 70% male. ☺ ☺ ☺
P.S. If anybody really wants to see an effective, slow moving, character driven, setting driven, melodramatic family drama, there are plenty of them out there by East Asian filmmakers. They almost specialize in that category.