Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Manchester by the Sea (2016)

2016 | R | 135 Minutes


After his older brother passes away, Lee Chandler is forced to return home to care for his 16-year-old nephew. There he is compelled to deal with a tragic past that separated him from his family an...

Overall Rating

9 / 10
Verdict: Great

User Review

  • With Awards season well and truly underway, Manchester by the Sea is a drama (with hints of subtle comedy) all about a working man who has to return to his hometown due to unforeseen circumstances but is faced with his troubling past, and so must come to terms with new challenges as well as his memories that haunt him. We all probably know, from the poster, that this film is a hit with critics. I mean every poster is just covered with five stars, overused adjectives and awards that it has already won. Is it worth all of that praise? Absolutely. This is pure drama and it is refreshing to see. Firstly, Casey Affleck owned this film, the amount of screentime he had was bewildering. I usually find him quite a monotonous actor but he really outdid himself (and Michelle Williams). His character is damaged, he is a broken man and Affleck was able to emotionally involve himself with the film. In fact, I would go as far as saying that I didn't see Affleck in this film, I saw his character Lee was that good. Supporting cast are good, Michelle Williams was fine, nothing major, and yet she still gets nomination for everything. Kyle Chandler was good but it is relative newcomer Lucas Hedges that impressed me. His delivery and sincerity of his lines was perfect, definitely one to watch out for in the future. Speaking of the lines, the screenplay for this film was outstanding. No useless scenes, no stupid lines that were was just meticulously thought out and I hope it wins awards. The inclusion of humour for such a melancholic drama was brave but necessary, it really allowed us to connect with these characters. I have to give director Kenneth Lonergan some credit as his camerawork was clean, some nice long takes and many wide shots to take in the scenery. Halfway through the film he interweaves the present narrative to a past memory (I didn't see that coming...literally shocked me) of the main character and switches between the two for a few seconds. A great way to establish empathy for the character and to heighten the importance of how his past has damaged him...was really good direction. However, many times during the film Lonergan chooses to not include transitions and so we could be watching a sad moment only for the scene to change instantly into something more upbeat, unfortunately it didn't enable me to prolong my emotional investment during those scenes so it did not work for me. I can see why it was done, just was not for me. The score to this film was hypnotic, mostly violins and other stringed instruments but I really thought it suited the town of Manchester (being a sleepy port town). Overall, Manchester by the Sea was a well grounded, supremely acted, excellently directed drama that has a career best performance from Casey Affleck and introduces to us the talented Lucas Hedges. If you have not watched this, I urge that you do.