Manchester by the Sea : Review

Kenneth Lonergan’s powerful drama has been receiving plenty of critical plaudits since its release and it’s easy to see why it’s proving so popular. It’s a bruising, haunting and incredibly affecting movie that hits hard and stays with you long after it’s the credits have rolled.

The story focuses on Casey Affleck’s Lee, a tortured soul who is forced to return to his hometown after his brother passes away and he is named as his nephew’s guardian. The return home sees a lot of old wounds opened up and we slowly learn the reasons behind Lee’s sullen demeanour.

The film’s structure is an intriguing one, with two timelines operating in tandem as we see the present day drama cut alongside the historical events that caused Lee’s downturn. This process works beautifully as it provides us with a gradually expanding glimpse into Lee’s past and how it impacts upon his present.

Casey Affleck is nothing short of superb in the lead role. He delivers a captivating performance brimming with sorrow, regret and pain. His quiet demeanour barely containing a torrent of rage and self-loathing lying just beneath the surface. From the first scene to the last, you can’t take your eyes off him.

It is perhaps also worth mentioning that the film is not a joyless or relentlessly earnest affair. There is a definite strain of warmth and humour that breaks through, particularity in the interactions between Lee and his nephew Patrick. It’s the burgeoning odd couple relationship between these two men that makes up the bulk of the film’s narrative and it’s testament to both Affleck and Lucas Hedges’ abilities that it doesn’t drag for a second.

Manchester by the Sea seamlessly draws you in to the lives of its characters thanks to both the skill of its director and the brilliance of its lead actors. It’s a heartfelt and absorbing look at loss and regret that fully deserves all the accolades it continues to receive.

 

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★

(Image Credit : Amazon Studios)

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