Last week we took a trip to the cinema to watch one of the films in the running for this year’s Oscars, Manchester By the Sea. Having watched the film, something good happened, which only happens after you’ve watched something worth seeing. There was an extended period of silence as the static audience stayed in their seats, despite the credits rolling on. Whether it was a mix of longing for more or just being quite affected by what we had all watched, it can only be a good sign. This film is emotional and raw from start to finish, but is a two-hour long masterclass in direction and acting from Lonergan and co, that stays with you long after you leave the cinema.
As we sat in the front row of a packed out cinema, the first thought was why on earth do they sit people so close? We were practically underneath the screen and the craning of the neck was already beginning to irritate. But as soon as the film began, that irritance quickly exited the mind.
What stands out about this film is the acting. Casey Affleck is really superb. As with any great acting performance, you completely forget this is an actor. He transforms into this very pitiful character Lee Chandler and really does send you on a bit of an emotional ride. Most of the film I could hear sniffing and tissues being scrunched behind me, so I knew I was not the only one shedding a tear or two. He is joined by Michelle Williams as his ex-wife and Kyle Chandler as his brother who passes away, but most of the film focuses on his relationship with his brother’s son, Patrick played by Lucas Hedges.