For the 22nd anniversary of our first date, Shira and I hit dinner and a movie. Our choice of movie: Manchester by the Sea. As foster parents, we're always curious to see how TV and Movies portray non-traditional families, and so this seemed like a winner.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW. Stop reading if you care about that sort of thing.
My first reaction as the credits rolled was to be unimpressed. Yes, I'd surely witnessed some powerful acting, but as far as I could tell the writers of the movie didn't bother to add any sort of twist. When you watch the preview of the movie you quickly understand the setup: there's a dad, a son and an uncle; the dad dies; the uncle is unprepared to care for the son. After 137 long minutes, that's exactly where you end up. I appreciate that not every movie needs a Hollywood ending, but c'mon, give me something. My gold standard for this type of movie is, believe it or not, Big Daddy (yes, an Adam Sandler film). And that film shows how you can show growth all while staying in the realm of the real.
Over time, I've warmed just slightly to the movie. I appreciate that the writers may have managed to pull off perhaps more impressive feat than having the characters grow: we as the audience have grown. While I'm still pulling for the uncle to step up and do more, by the end of the movie, I get it. He's just got too much grief; he's just too broken. He wants to be the uncle I want him to be, he just can't. And for me, a casual observer, to come around this view point did indeed take some clever storytelling.
Ultimately, the movie just wasn't a good fit for me. I wanted an escape, and what it delivered was a cold splash of reality. Oh well, better luck next time.