Manchester by the Sea ★★★★

Cinema as raw nerve ending. 
The devastating viciousness of life is always up for a fresh examination and Manchester pulls no punches. The skill and subtlety of Chandler and Affleck are something to behold. I love the simple "glimpses" that slowly reveal their character's back stories.
I don't think this is the best film of the year, but I do applaud its willingness to strip the varnish off the old-fashioned melodrama and make it relatable to a new generation.
There were still times I felt overly manipulated however... why does Longeran insist on stretching every sequence to the absolute worst case scenario? Do all 3 you-know-whos really have to die?  Wouldn't just 1 be plenty (I will say the 3 picture frames bit was quite the clever emotional lever though)... Why exhume the corpses of Gretchen Mol and Matt Broderick just for them to play cartoon caricatures, praise Jesus and then vanish?
The film occasionally comes off as a supercharged version of Ordinary People...yet the performances manage to be interesting enough that the film as a whole doesn't crumble under the weight of its dire thematic elements.

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