If it feels like you’ve been hearing about Manchester By The Sea for a long time, well you have been. The film premiered in January of this year at the Sundance Festival, and has made headlines ever since. It’s played at several different film festivals around the world, including TIFF 2016, and word of mouth has done nothing but grown. The film finally gets its wide release this weekend in Canada, and if you haven’t seen it at one of the festivals, you probably should catch it now because it’s a film that is sure to be around come awards season.
Casey Affleck stars as Lee Chandler, a down on his luck janitor who receives a phone call one day and is informed that his brother has passed away. It didn’t come as a surprise because his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) had been given a death sentence a couple of years earlier. What did surprise Lee however is that Joe had listed him as the guardian to his teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). It’s a job he didn’t ask for, and one he’s not sure he can do. As he prepares his brother’s funeral and gets his affairs in order, Lee is forced to confront a tragic past that he’d spent the last few years trying to distance himself from.
Related: Manchester By The Sea Stars Kyle Chandler and Lucas Hedges Discuss Their Experience On The Film
What makes Manchester By The Sea so good is the fact that it’s a slice of life film. It doesn’t try to sugarcoat anything, or give you a Hollywood gloss over. It’s a heavy movie, that pulls you into Lee’s world so quickly that you feel the darkness he is living through. It’s sad and depressing, and yet there are moments of natural humour that lighten it. There is a reality to the film that you don’t see very often, and it would have been incredibly difficult to pull it off without the strong performance of its star Casey Affleck. Affleck deserves the Best Actor Oscar for the movie, because he makes you forget you are watching a movie. When you see him on the screen you can feel his pain, even when he isn’t talking, and you wish you could just help him take it all away. You can tell that director/writer Kenneth Lonergan is a playwright because he definitely knows how to write strong, powerful characters. He also does an amazing job changing scenes from past to present as well, which many movies have a difficulty with.
Be warned, this movie is going to want to make you cry. If you are looking for something that is going to make you feel good about yourself, this probably isn’t the movie for you. What it will do however is show you a strong tale about survival and hope. About moving forward from tragedy, and trying to make the best life you can for yourself. Manchester By The Sea is one of the best movies of the year.
By: Roderick Thedorff