Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Starring: Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams
The year 2016 was a good year in the movies especially dramas. Most of them were heartwrenching emotional stories but very realistic in today’s times. One such film is Manchester by the Sea. Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea has garnered an impressive six Oscar nominations recently. Not just that, Casey Affleck who is leading the film has already taken home a Golden Globe for Best Actor in Drama.
This is a story about a man named Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) who works as a janitor at an apartment complex in a Boston spending his days shoveling snow and scrubbing toilets and nights getting drunk and picking up fights in a bar. From the very beginning, it’s evident that Lee has a very dark past because of which he is now a depressed, apathetic and anti-social man. From the very first trailer itself, one knows that Lee returns to his hometown Manchester, Massachusetts – after his brother, Joe Chandler dies. He is there to arrange a funeral and care for his teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges) after his brother makes him his son’s legal guardian in his will. Lee Chandler appears to be an emotionally challenged man who is unable to connect with people including his teenage nephew as he takes up the role as his guardian. The film goes back and forth between the present day and flashbacks to give the story about his brother Joe Chandler (Kyle Chandler), father and his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and revelation about the tragic event behind Lee’s unspoken yet pained existence.
The performances are what that makes this film a masterpiece. Casey Affleck has come a long way. His ability to convey so much without expressing much and controlled performance make it a compelling emotional drama. Casey also has a support of amazing cast including the newcomer Lucas Hedges who plays his teenage nephew Patrick. People relate to his teenager as he refuses to show his vulnerability in public to put up this confident boyish charm act. But, his vulnerable moments in private is what makes his character more realistic. The relationship between Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges characters make the main plot of the movie. They reconnect in the film and the life lessons they teach each other only showcases the growth of their relationship.
Michelle Williams plays Affleck’s ex-wife Randi in the film who manages to leave a mark even with very few scenes. Her character is strong yet broken who has moved on in her life but still is dealing with the pain from the past. Kyle Chandler as Casey’s strict yet affectionate older brother is impressive.
Manchester by the Sea is a silent story about dealing with pain and grief. It’s about how it is difficult for some people to deal with the gut-wrenching pain that he choose to shut down themselves away so they don’t have to deal with painful emotions. It is about healing together in difficult times. The movie is painful but strikes an emotional chord with the audience. There is no reason to wonder why critics have been raving about the film. It is one of the most well-crafted emotional dramas of the year.
Watch the trailer here: