MOVIE: Manchester by the Sea.
DIRECTOR(S): Kenneth Lonergan.
WRITER(S): Kenneth Lonergan.
DATE WATCHED: 01/01/2017.
WATCHED VIA: AMC movie theater.
LENGTH: 137 minutes.
PERSONAL RATING: 4/5
An Uncle is obliged to return home to care for his nephew after his brother dies. Unknowing he is to be the guardian and struggles with the decision. Throughout the movie he recounts past memories that caused him to leave Manchester and distancing himself from his past.
THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.
I’m honestly not too sure about where to start with this movie, so I guess I’ll take it step by step:
First off, the acting. I have always been a fan of Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams; both of them are supremely talented and can add depth to the characters they play merely by the look in their eyes. Casey Affleck stole this for me, however, and not simply because he played the main/focus character. The heartbreak that Lee showed throughout the entirety of the film, without even fulling breaking down once, made me instantly sympathetic to him. The way that Affleck portrayed someone in shock at the loss of a family member, to the horror/anguish/rage at himself for drunkenly putting his family in danger, to the anger he shows in the split second that he punches the window is honestly harrowing. How he was able to dig up that much emotion and yet keep it so tightly in check, as Lee clearly forced himself to do, was incredible. That isn’t to say that Michelle Williams wasn’t amazing, because she was, or that Lucas Hedges didn’t put on a beautiful performance as a teenager dealing with the loss of his father because they were both brilliant. But Affleck knocked it out of the goddamn park.
The second thing I want to touch on is the story itself. I wasn’t entirely certain what I was expecting going into the movie; I knew it was a drama, I had a feeling it would be heart-wrenching, but I did not expect something so beautifully crafted. Each character we encounter throughout the movie felt incredibly real to me, as if we were watching someone’s real life tragedy unfold before our very eyes. Not only that, but it was a story driven entirely by characters and character relationships. Was there somewhat over the top drama? Sure. Was the story flawed a bit? Sure. But considering how many movies these days tend to focus on cheap melodrama and ridiculous, impossible circumstances in “regular” life, Manchester did a wonderful job giving the audience a relatable and real-feeling story. On a somewhat related note: the writing of it was fantastic. It really felt like these characters were just having conversations, not rehashing rehearsed lines.
Third: the freaking cinematography. The entire movie was beautiful, and they used such interesting angles and frame styles. Although I felt that the introductory scene was a bit unnecessary, aside from to show us the beauty of Massachusetts, the rest of it was wonderfully shot.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It felt a little longer than maybe it needed to be and I’m not too certain I’d rewatch it, but I certainly don’t regret the 2+ hours I spent watching it, nor do I regret the ~$5 I used from a gift card to buy the ticket.