Cert: 15 Runtime: 137 mins Director: Kenneth Lonergan Cast: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Kyle Chandler and Michelle Williams
My heart was broken, and I know yours is broken, too
The award season outsider this year is Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea. A dark gritty story and the unlikely casting of Casey Affleck, attracted me to this film. The big question is what is it all about? Rude, withdrawn and quick to anger, Boston handyman Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is clearly a troubled man. When he receives news of the sudden death of his beloved brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) from heart failure, Lee sets off alone for his Massachusetts home town of Manchester-by-the Sea. Here he learns that he has become guardian of his 16-year-old nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges). But returning home also means confronting his troubled past and the tragic events that forced him to leave, separating him from his wife, Randi (Michelle Williams).
The performances in Manchester by the Sea make this film stand out. Casey Affleck gives a superb lead performance that Lonergan’s film well and truly deserves, and he would definitely be a worthy winner of all the major awards, one scene in particular that should seal them all for him. Disjointed from friends and family after the death of his brother, Affleck’s often muted performance highlights the lack of connection Lee has with society, an almost silent rage feeling like it’s constantly building.Lucas Hedges is a revelation as Patrick, opting to deal with his grief in the opposite way and keeping himself busy and surrounded by friends. Hedges more than holds his own when sharing a scene with Affleck and certainly has a big future ahead of him. Though she doesn’t appear in the film as much as I thought she would, Michelle Williams does a brilliant job with one heartbreaking scene in particular.
The cinematography and editing in the film is subtle and impressive, with the way scenes are cut together adding emotional impact or depth to the characters. The juxtaposition of two scenes can make a point about a character, and the way certain scenes are edited can show the internal struggle of a character. The cinematography also conveys different layers of Lee, such as Lee’s disconnect from the people in his life. Manchester By The Sea is visually impressive, emotionally involving, subtle, very well edited, and powerfully acted character study. The progression of each character is very realistic. The characters don’t suddenly get better, because life doesn’t work that way. There are no sudden moments of understanding or epiphany, there is just the hint of hope underneath all of their guilt and grief. However, they also don’t just mope and whine the whole time. They do try to get away from their grief, and they try to form connections, and they try to move on. But, in the end, it just isn’t that easy.