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Manchester by the Sea Review

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“Manchester By the Sea” is writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s third feature film outing, and it stars Casey Affleck as a middle aged plumber named Lee Chandler, who lives alone in Boston.  However, when he gets a call to find that his brother has passed away, he is forced to return to his hometown to take care of his nephew and face the demons of his past.

Intentionally, I will keep what those demons are and why going to is hometown is so hard for him vague, because learning what those are throughout the first half of the film is an important part of the experience that shouldn’t be ruined.  All I will say is that there is a key scene around the halfway point of the film that reveals a lot about Chandler’s past, and from this point on, the film completely change the direction people will expect it is going and turns into what’s possibly the best movie I have seen this year.

The two strongest aspects of the film by far are the acting and writing. The performances and dialogue were done so realistically, many times throughout it is easy to forget that you are watching a movie.  Casey Affleck gives the best performance of his career without even giving very much dialogue at all, he manages to portray so much just through his facial expressions and body language, rather than saying everything out loud.

The other standout performance comes from newcomer Lucas Hedges, who plays Patrick, the nephew that Chandler is forced to take care of, and throughout the film he offers most of the funnier moments with perfect comedic timing, while also having a few of the most surprisingly dramatic moments in the movie.  People without a doubt will soon start seeing Hedges pop up more often after this.

“Manchester By the Sea” is not an easy film to get through, there are a handful of scenes that are some of the most emotional I have ever seen on the big screen. After leaving the theater, I was left thinking about many of these scenes for days after, but, it was still a rewarding experience.  For people who like going to the cinema to see movies that can impact them on an emotional level, “Manchester” is a must see.  And for me, it is without argument, the best movie so far of 2016. 10/10


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