For many reasons, watching this film reminded me of Alexander Payne's The Descendants and its subtle approach towards dealing with a situation as harsh as death.
Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan (whose earlier ventures into filmmaking I am very curious about, now that I have seen this one), the film doesn't have a single scene that screams in your face. The two that come close to doing that have been shot and edited in a manner that does not allow them to linger for longer than necessary.
The background score on most occasions ranges from mild to mildly pronounced. Never melodramatic.
In fact, if you break down the film in parts and watch those parts in a particular order, it is likely that you will mistake this as a light comedy even after you are done with 60% of the length (which it is, but that's only on the surface).
The drama is not imposed on you in one sudden stroke. The damage is rendered slowly, one flashback at a time, with almost a casual touch to the proceedings.
Gentle at first, then a little strong, then stronger, then- in its final stages- powerful.
The writing, the acting (even the bit roles), the background score, and the cinematography. All top notch.
But what it eventually comes down to is the one man who carries the entire film on his shoulders from the beginning to the end.
Playing Lee Chandler- a young man with a traumatic past who has recently lost his brother-Cassey Affleck emotes ten times as much as Hugh Jackman from Prisoners did, only without the assistance of overtly intense dialogues or facial contortions that'd make the likes of Hrithik Roshan proud.
Affleck's face seldom changes and yet is literally an open map of his thoughts. He says all that is needed to break the audiences’ heart in a thousand pieces, without saying anything at all.
The grief. Oh the grief!
I must admit I haven't seen too many of his previous films, but if this hadn’t fetched him the Oscar for best actor, then I don't know what the fuck would have.
A straight five out of five overall. Nothing less.
Recommended viewing. One of 2016's finest contributions to cinema.
Catch trailer here: