Manchester By The Sea

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.

Casey Affleck with Kyle Chandler as Lee and Joe Chandler - Manchester By The Sea

Casey Affleck with Kyle Chandler as Lee and Joe Chandler – Manchester By The Sea

It is the combination of emotions that Affleck portrays so authentically that sets him apart from most actors. He was certainly aided by some brilliant performances from his co-stars, particularly Lucas Hedges who earned an Oscar nod for his troubles, but he could’ve done this film by himself and you don’t feel as if it would have lost any of it’s emotion.

The film is fairly slow at the beginning and then it speeds up rapidly in the middle when you are taken back a few years where his secrets are revealed, and then it slows again as time is brought back to the present. It remains slow for the rest of the film and doesn’t really have an ending, which was clearly intentional. It is a picture about loss and grief and also a recognition that some things can never leave you and will change your life indefinitely. But what this film said to us more powerfully was that life goes on; shit happens but time keeps moving forward. People are born and teenagers grow up as older generations pass, but time will continue to drift by. There was an underlying message of you can be like Lee Chandler and remain miserable with no desire to try to be happy or you can move on and start again.

Casey Affleck with Lucas Hedges - Manchester By The Sea

Casey Affleck with Lucas Hedges – Manchester By The Sea

Kenneth Lonergan’s direction changed this film from a sad story to something that is a real contender for the Oscars this year. Everything in this fim had a purpose, from the relevance every single shot to the humour being just about right and also the score which underlied the tone of the film. Nothing was wasted and it left us wanting more when the film ended, which is very rare to say as we had already been sat there for nearly two and a half hours.

We recommend you see this film before the Academy Awards as it is up for 6 nominations including Best Actor for Casey Affleck, Best Director for Kenneth Lonergan and also Best Picture. People and critics alike are calling it a masterpiece and we certainly agree. We think it deserves an Oscar or two.

Casey Affleck with director Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester By The Sea

Casey Affleck with director Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester By The Sea