Saturday, March 11, 2017

I'm just a backup.

If you don't have kids, in a way, I totally envy you. You and all your disposable income are bound by nothing. You can come and go as you please, do basically whatever the f--k you want. Oh, and don't even attempt to mention your cat or dog as a burden, okay f--ker? No one (with kids) cares.

But, in a weird way, though I would never say this to your handsome face, I also feel bad for you. Sure, doing whatever, whenever (and to an extent, whomever) you please, absolutely f--king rules, but holy shit, kids? Really? Ever? You're hardcore.

If you have kids, on the other hand, there's nothing that needs to be said. You've been to the puppet show, you've seen the strings. You know all about the highs and lows of raising/managing those lovable little bastards. I could tell you it's the most rewarding/thankless job on the planet, but I'd just be wasting everyone's time. I'll just give you a silent nod and keep it moving, because we both probably have some shit to do.

But if you had kids? There's nothing I could ever say to you. Nothing I would ever say to you. In fact, I might give you a pass on just about everything you'd do from that terrible moment on. Including being an aimless drifter, just trying to get by.

Near the top of my personal 'movies I loved...but never, ever want to see again' list.
I had heard the legend of Manchester by the Sea, heard all about how depressing a film it was, and thought I was prepared for an emotional story. But after I found myself sobbing yet again, tears quietly streaming down my face, I realized this film was about the thing that terrifies me more than anything. Typically, seeing a father die in a film makes me brood over own mortality (perhaps even the inevitable death of my own father), but in Sea, it's an entirely different feeling. And frankly, I couldn't shake it. And maybe still haven't.

Casey Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a quiet man floating through the drudgery of an invisible life just outside of Boston. You might assume that he's unhappy about his lot, but the more we get to know Lee, the more we realize this is exactly the way he wants it to be. He's alive, but might as well be buried, as his days being a handyman likely peak with an evening drink and a bar fight.

Even the death of Lee's beloved older brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler), isn't enough to shake him, and he perfunctorily heads north to the hospital morgue. Joe had his affairs in order, for the most part, with only one glaring omission: who was going to take care of his 16 year-old son, Patrick. Maybe everyone else knew it was always going to be Lee when Joe passed, but this is news to his baby brother. Awful news.

Though I have already spoiled much of what tore my heart out, the story unfolds with a slew of flashbacks that pile on the hopelessness and despair. Lee can seem like a bit of stubborn asshole at times, but eventually his extreme dislike/disinterest of just about everything and everyone makes absolute sense. And it broke my f--king heart.

Tell me the kid on the left doesn't look like he could be Matt Damon's nephew...
Also emotionally crippling, are the Yays and Boos. The joy of seeing an Oscar contender a couple of days before the big show? That's a Yay. The fact that my wife questioned whether or not I was trying to kill her by renting this film? Yeah. That's a Boo.

Screw shaking hands...

  • Here am I, trying to hold myself together, and Stephen Henderson shows up? I thought this movie was supposed to be depressing?
  • You might be surprised by how funny this movie can be. Yeah, I might be laughing harder to push out all the despair, but even his brother's diagnosis scene cracked me up.
  • It's not a shahhhk. Ah, New England. I love you so (and miss you tremendously).
  • I'm not sure how many times you've heard your grandmother say f--k, but being that mine's from blue-collar Boston...I lost count at a million. Translation? This movie feels like home.
  • Man, when his hockey teammates gave Patrick a hug? The ones he was previously just scrapping with? That shit tore through a good way.
  • Same with his boys coming over later that day to talk shit about Star Trek. I mean, Stahh Trek.
  • Even though it goes on to foreshadow the worst f--king moment in recent cinematic history, Randi telling all the guys to f--k off was momentary bliss. Bonus points because I've lived that scene at least a hundred times as a kid.
  • Basement business. That's one way to put it.
  • Speaking of, Sandy's mom seems nice, right?
  • I can't let you freak out with the door closed.
  • I died every single time they gave their drummer shit. It was like if Fletcher from Whiplash [review] was equally divided into three high-schoolers.
  • I'll take some B's and C's footage any day. NESN in HD used to be something I'd have cut a bitch for.
  • And finally, and it easily goes without saying, but the performances from the three leads are nothing short of phenomenal. Obviously, this isn't news, as each was nominated for an in their respective category, but holy shit, these people have stayed with me for weeks. And what Casey Affleck did here? Astounding. That scene at the police station was about as powerful as anything I've ever witnessed. I'd stand and clap if I weren't too busy looking the f--k away (and wiping the snot off of my face).
Of all the people to run into...
  • Thtat Mrs. Olson's a real charmer, right? Jesus, lady.
  • Even if I ultimately understand, all the unnecessary bar fights were huge dick moves. Look, I get it, Lee, I do. But cut the shit, you know?
  • I feel like a dick for even mentioning it, but whoever played the big guy (at the hospital), I felt like he was the weak link here.
  • What the f--k, guys, can't anybody figure out how to put someone in a goddamned ambulance?
  • And on that note, did we really need to see the removal? I'm already f--king crying my eyes out at the implication, for f--k's sake.
  • Even though you know he's going to make it, going for the gun was way too f--king intense for me. Seriously. (I think I heard my wife gasp)
  • 'Great parenting!' How the Hell did this guy avoid the beatin' of his life? I don't know if this guy's named Donnie or not, but he is clearly out of his element talking to Lee like that.
  • Lee, despondent uncle, terrible wingman. Not that I blame him, but Lee's lack of interest in anything, even Sandy's mother (er, mothah) costs Patrick in a big way.
  • Man, what the Hell is up with Patrick's mom (and her husband, Ferris). This lady was a f--king mess.
  • I know you've seen it, but Michelle William's apology scene is something that is crushing even out of context. But within the depths of this story? It's outright devastating.
  • Oh, and speaking of lines that stabbed me directly in the heart, I can't beat it let loose a deluge of sadness I didn't know resided in my indifferent, black heart. Goodness...
  • And finally, let me overwhelmingly jeer the fact that somewhere on this planet, this story really hits home for someone. Echoes an experience that they know all too well. I hopefully will never join this club (in either fashion), but am fully sympathetic to anyone who has ever dealt with such loss. You might be doing great now, or you might be an aimless f--k up. And you have every right to be whatever you want (or don't want) to be. 
I could say I understand what Lee is going through, that I get it, but I honestly don't. And hopefully never will

Manchester by the Sea, like having children of your own, may not be for everyone. I'm willing to accept that. But even if both are going to ultimately crush you at some point...

...experiencing each is still something I'd (quietly) recommend.


  1. I am one of these people who for a lot of reasons will probably never have kids so I am not sure how relatable I will find this. I wanna see this one and Fences but both look so depressing...after work I go for that drink and substitute the bar fight with any film starring a hot dude. Not sure if a bar fight is less or more dangerous than that

    1. I was thinking about you when I wrote that opening, and I really don't mean to be a dick in saying anything about people who may never have kids. However, what happens here is universally devastating, so I'm sure you'll be, you know what I mean. It's just a million times worth if you have kids.

      Fences is pretty f--king brutal too, but this one is waaaay worse.

      Barfights? I like your plan more.

    2. Oh Jesus Christ I'm the childless, crazy lady of this blogosphere aren't I? :P

      I may catch it before next RF if only to have...something else to write about

    3. NO! Well...maybe. At least the most vocal one...heh heh.

      And being that I write for basically a handful of people, I occasionally consider what I'm going to say, you know? The rest of the time I'm mashing the keyboard with the grace of an elephant that's learned to paint.

    4. Being childless definitely doesn't qualify you as crazy. :-) My daughter (who is 22) never wants kids either. I totally support that choice. Luckily for her, she has 2 siblings, which dilutes the "but I want grandchildren!" guilt I dole out from time to time.

    5. Quite the opposite, right? Having kids is f--king lunacy.

    6. Well...yes. No sane person would but themselves through all this.

  2. This movie was sooooooooooooooooo fucking depressing. I kind of hated watching it, but my husband wants to see it, so I'll give it another chance. Maybe I'll like it more on a 2nd viewing.

    Or I'll be even more depressed.

    great review!

    1. It really was, Brittani. I f--king bawled through most of it. I thought it was sad enough that his brother died...but the f--king other thing? Just punched me right in the heart.

      I remember you weren't the hugest fan (Manchester by the Zzzzzzz [is that right?]), but there's no f--king way I'd sit through this one again.


  3. Damn, this sounds like an intense experience!

  4. Came back after watching it in between 6 Hugh Jackman movies. SIX. I think I should sue him for endangerment.


    I was relieved how funny it was. I lost it early on when Lee showed up to the hospital and went "AH FUCK!" *awkward silence* and his interractions with the nephew were hilarious, that kid was amazing

    The second I saw the kids and remembered your review I knew something awful was coming. That actually resulted in Williams' sole good scenebon that stretcher. I thought her acting was terrible. Considering what happened I saw none of the hell she went through in her. I am more distressed on daily basis about trivial bullshit than she was in her big scene

    1. Wow. A half dozen? That's insanity. could do way worse than six HJ movies. Waaay worse.

      Yeah, it's a good thing these people like their servings of grief with a side of sarcasm, or else this movie might have been the death of me. And yes, totally, that kid was awesome. He might have been my hero in all honesty, having two ladies to, uh, grieve with.

      Terrible? No way. She was very good. Her big scene when she runs into Lee was amazing. We didn't see that Hell she went through, but with that apology...we're left to think it was f--king terrible.

      Glad Is that fair to say?