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Dan's Review: "Manchester by the Sea" A beautiful story of love and loss

Dec 09, 2016 12:46PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Kyle Chandler and Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea - © 2016 – Roadside Attractions

Manchester by the Sea (Roadside Attractions)

Rated R for language throughout and some sexual content.

Starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol, Lucas Hedges, Tate Donovan, Kara Hayward, Erica McDermott, Matthew Broderick, Heather Burns, C.J. Wilson.

Written and Directed by Kenneth Lonergan.

GRADE: A

REVIEW:

Dealing with death is a tough proposition. It can be even tougher if the tragedies begin to pile up. That’s the basic theme behind Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan’s incredible new film starring Casey Affleck as a man forced to confront the demons of his past as he deals with the death of a family member.

Affleck plays Lee, a janitor and building super for an apartment complex near Boston. When his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) passes away after a decade-long battle with heart disease, Lee must return to his former hometown of Manchester to deal with family business. Lee discovers that Joe has given him guardianship of his son Patrick (Lucas Hedges), with the intention that he move back home and take care of him, along with the family’s fishing business. As Lee deals with being in charge of his teenage nephew, memories come flooding back, reminding him of the tragedy that led to his divorce from Randi (Michelle Williams). Lee feels ill-equipped to be a parent, and tries to fond other options for Patrick. He must come to terms with his own problems and the needs of his only remaining family.

Manchester by the Sea is a moving, beautiful, and heart-wrenching story of love, loss and forgiveness. It’s also a testament to family and the sacrifices necessary to maintain healthy relationships. Kenneth Lonergan’s script and direction results in the cinematic masterpiece that should be considered one of the best films of 2016. There’s also plenty of sardonic humor in Lonergan’s script, much like the northeast culture depicted in the film (also, plenty of northeast dialect, like “shawhk” instead of “shark”). Jody Lee Lipes’ cinematography, showcasing the splendor of the northeast coastal towns in Massachusetts also provides the perfect backdrop for a story that is harsh and beautiful at the same time.

Lucas Hedges deserves credit for playing a great supporting role, but I can’t rave enough Casey Affleck’s performance. It is by far the best I’ve seen this year, and he deserves all the accolades coming to him. It’s an incredible feat to switch between playing basically two different characters; one before having his heart ripped out and the other as a shell of his former being. Affleck’s delivery and screen presence make Manchester by the Sea one of the best emotional movie experiences of the year.


Manchester by the Sea Trailer

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