Saturday, 14 January 2017


Starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol and Lucas Hedges. Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan. Budget $8.5 million. Running time 137 minutes. Certificate 15.

Just superb. A true masterpiece. One of the most satisfying movies I've seen in an absolute age!

Casey Affleck is Lee Chandler a man living in self imposed exile as a quiet reserved janitor. From his single basement room in the bottom of a Boston tenement, that resembles a cell, Lee spends his days  clearing the paths of snow, unblocking toilets or fixing the numerous problems of his tenants. Then in the evenings he gets roaring drunk in a dingy bars and gets into fights for no good reason.

That is until one day when he gets a phone call and learns his beloved brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler) has died and so he heads back to his hometown of Manchester to arrange the funeral only to discover that Joe has not only left him the family home, a trust fund, the family business - a working boat - but he's also made Lee the legal guardian of his 16 year-old nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Trapped in Manchester until the frozen ground has thawed enough to allow Joe to be buried, Lee is forced to relive some painful memories and try to bond with his emotionally stunned nephew.

Over the course of the next two hours, through flash backs, we discover Lee's truly tragic past and watch as he struggles to find himself and bond with his nephew, while his old friends and ex-wife try to reconnect with him.

This is a genuinely stunning movie. Beautiful to look at, staggering well written and acted and truly heart-breaking. I utterly loved this film and would have happily sat through another four hours of it. That said, it won't be for everyone, it's painfully slow, like molasses. It's filled with ennui and at it's core is a heartbreaking revelation. Like life, there is no plot and conversations ramble and often end without a full stop.

For some unknown reason, I adore these sorts of slow, slow burn movies about seemingly nothing, I find them almost intoxicating. Casey Affleck is brilliant in the role, as is new comer Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams as Lee's ex-wife, Randi brings an agonising poignancy to the role and the glimpses of their past life together as a loving married couple are beautiful to behold.

But this isn't all tears and heartbreak, it's also painfully funny and filled with naturalistic humour that brings some all-too-brief warmth to the proceedings. Likewise, the scenery is beautiful and the direction by Kenneth Lonergan is subtle and un-showy.

I don't often say this, but I urge you to see this, it deserves to be seen.

A modern masterpiece. 10/10

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