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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 9th December 2016 > THE SCREENING ROOM HIGH TIDE


Kenneth Lonergan’s masterful new film floats a small story on a sea of emotion
MAKING WAVES: Williams and Affleck are flintily affecting as Randi and Lee, the young parents at the center of Manchester by the Sea.

THE WRITER-DIRECTOR Kenneth Lonergan listens to his characters with the gentle forbearance of a Catholic priest receiving confession from his more error-prone parishioners—unshocked, even quietly amused, by what he hears; generous with the absolutions. In his third film, Manchester by the Sea, Lonergan is listening to Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a taciturn janitor who lives alone in a basement in Boston and spends his days scrubbing toilets, shoveling snow, and doing odd handyman jobs. Hands jammed into his pockets, Lee seems a million miles away, eyes hazing over in conversations, small talk or flirtation striking him like a fly on a windscreen. You can practically feel the dead air around him. When he drinks, alone in a bar, he drinks to oblivion, and when someone looks at him the wrong way, he picks a fight almost like a kid rolling his eyes at his teacher, accepting the battering as his daily due—the tax on his existence.

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THE ROBOT ECONOMY Next time you stop for gas at a self-serve pump, say hello to the robot in front of you. Its life story can tell you a lot about the robot economy roaring toward us like an EF5 tornado on the prairie. Yeah, your automated gas pump killed a lot of jobs over the years, but its biography might give you hope that the coming wave of automation driven by artificial intelligence (AI) will turn out better for almost all of us than a lot of people seem to think.