The Oscars this year may have been dominated by the headlines created by the groundbreaking mistake that saw La La Land and Moonlight embroiled in a Best Picture debacle, but one film that deserved much praise and plaudits was Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea. Very much a film that would be considered a worthy advocate of the entire awards season, the highly emotional drama not only saw a well-deserved Best Actor award for lead star Casey Affleck, but also saw the incredible talents of Kenneth Lonergan awarded with Best Original Screenplay.
Manchester By The Sea tells the story of troubled, depressed Lee Chandler who is suddenly thrust into the life of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges), following the death of Lee’s brother Joe (Kyle Chandler). A teenager who Lee simply cannot handle with being the new carer of, the cracks in Lee’s life begin to show as his own personal tragedies as well as his nephew’s prove that life by the sea isn’t at tranquil as one would desire.
A deeply emotional and moving affair, Manchester By The Sea is certainly one of the most affecting films of the year, presenting us with a truly personal tragedy that instantly hits home with the help of a career defining role from Casey Affleck. Somewhat living in the shadow of his brother Ben, Casey has forged a career of his own that is all too often overlooked, but with previous roles such as in The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford and Gone Baby Gone proving that he really does possess the acting mettle, Manchester By The Sea is the film to have people really sitting up and taking note.
Affleck brings a striking realism to the character of Lee, serving up raw emotion to every frame of this regularly soul-breaking film and seeing his character through some deeply emotive scenes. From a police interview that is among the film’s most powerful sequences, to an exchange with the ever-exquisite Michelle Williams, Affleck is a true revelation of unnatural proportions. Joining him with a powerhouse performance too is relative newcomer Lucas Hedges, adding that vulnerable edge to the film and adding to the saddening effect of a family loss with great poise. As one would expect, Michelle Williams adds something extra special to the mix, especially in a scene that will induce the utmost of teary reactions in a scene that is strong and hard to watch without feeling a dip in your heart, and Kyle Chandler once again comes up with the goods from his side of things.
To add to a stellar cast all on point, director Kenneth Lonergan whips up one of the most eloquent and striking presentations of pure storytelling this year as he produces one of those films that is hard to shake from the memory. Admittedly, some may find a film of this ilk to be a draining and all-too-often overwhelming affair, but there is little to deny the directorial prowess of a man who puts a rare foot wrong in producing a story that strikes every inch of your soul and keeps you emotionally invested throughout.
Manchester By The Sea is bold, brave and affecting cinema that hits close to home for anyone who has experienced loss in their life. The performances are exceptional, direction and storytelling unforgettable and overall experience rarely this striking. An essential watch for 2017.
Manchester By The Sea is out on Blu-ray and DVD on 15th May.