Manchester by the Sea
Director Kenneth Lonergan is the king of slice-of-life films. His debut film, You Can Count on Me, was a great little film focusing on a relationship between two siblings during difficult times in their lives. It was funny, honest, and heartwarming. It’s been five years since Lonergan wrote and directed a film, with his third and most recent being his best yet. While Manchester by the Sea may not be the type of funny and heartwarming film he’s made in the past, it is definitely his most powerful.
The story centers around a recluse janitor (Casey Affleck) who loses his brother to a rare disease, leaving him the guardian of his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges). While the film may not appeal to everyone, it’s a fantastic insight into how we as humans deal with grief. Affleck, with a number of standout roles, is at his absolute best as Lee and the performances are the main draw here. There isn’t a false note among the ensemble cast that includes Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, CJ Wilson, and Gretchen Mol. Each character here has a past and the actors truly give each one a heart and soul. This is truly a film you experience and, with such honest characters, it is easy to become wrapped up in the storyline. Lonergan has written a terrific script that deals with tough issues in a very sincere and heartfelt manner.
While it’s not the most fun watch of the year, it is easily the best acted film this year next to Hell or High Water. It will be nice to see Casey Affleck finally get his Oscar this year in a much-deserved role. This is a film that stuck with me for a long time after I saw it, making me appreciate it even more. It’s hard to recommend Manchester by the Sea, but it is without a doubt one of the best films I’ve seen this year.
Runtime: 2 hours, 17 minutes