BOSTON (CBS) – Call this one a tale of two Afflecks.
I finally got out to see the new movie starring Casey Affleck, “Manchester By-The-Sea,” the story of a guy psychologically devastated and forced to leave his hometown by a tragic accident, who returns to care for his nephew after the death of his brother.
The movie cost less than $9 million to make, and as of today has grossed more than $40 million worldwide.
More on why it’s such a big success in a moment.
But consider the contrast with the launch of “Live by Night,” director and star Ben Affleck’s $65 million baby.
I read the Dennis Lehane novel this is based on and enjoyed it, but haven’t seen the movie version. And based on the horrible reviews that pan both the movie and Ben Affleck’s acting in it, I’m not in any rush to do so.
From those reviews, it sounds like Affleck let big ideas and a big ego overwhelm the story and the characters, which is precisely what “Manchester By-The-Sea” doesn’t do.
All of its dialogue and situations ring true. The movie doesn’t talk you to sleep or drown you in literal representations.
Several scenes like the brother’s wake include no dialogue; music evokes the mood, and great acting beautifully suggests what is going on without beating you over the head with it.
Ben Affleck is talented, but his little brother is a much better actor, and writer/director Kenneth Lonergan is a true craftsman.
Moral of the story to creative people everywhere – sometimes less is definitely more.
Listen to Jon’s commentary: