Did you know that Matt Mulhern‘s Duane Hopwood is a film that people were talking about 15 years ago? And that it played Sundance ’05, and was positively reviewed by both Roger Ebert and Variety‘s Robert Koehler?
Did you also know that later that year IFC decided against releasing Duane Hopwood in New York City and Los Angeles, focusing instead on Philadelphia, Tucson and Kansas City? And that the film ended up with a total domestic gross of $13,510?
Earlier today Collider‘s Gregory Lawrence wrote that “if you’re going to watch one New England-set character study about an alcoholic father struggling to regain control and cathartically work through his traumas, watch Duane Hopwood, not Manchester by the Sea.”
Two of Lawrence’s reasons for offering this view, that Manchester is “overlong” and “oppressively morose”, are nothing sort of asinine. One suspects that his main reason is because Casey Affleck, who won the Best Actor Oscar for his Lee Chandler performance, is, in Lawrence’s words, “a noted sexual predator.”
I’m not saying Lawrence is a p.c. kumquat, but he kinda sounds like one.
The bottom line is that no amount of icky (not to mention financially settled and apologized for) behavior on Affleck’s part can possibly negate the effect of his performance or Kenneth Lonergan‘s film. And no amount of Collider spin can enhance the reputation of the smudgy, obviously second-tier, all-but-forgotten Duane Hopwood. There was a reason, trust me, why it wasn’t deemed worthy of a NY or LA opening. One look at the below videos (and a single sampling of Judah Friedlander‘s failed-actor character) tells you everything.