“Manchester By The Sea”- Doesn’t see Affleck out of his depth

Creating plenty of awards buzz is the critically acclaimed “Manchester By The Sea”. Starring Casey Affleck, directed by Kenneth Lonergran and produced by John Krasinski and Matt Damon (originally penned to play the lead). This film may not appear to be suitable for those who want an uplifting cinema experience, however, I would strongly suggest giving this stunning piece of work a try.

Affleck plays lonely handy man, Lee Chandler, who, after leaving his hometown of Manchester By The Sea in Massachusetts, becomes confronted by his painful past when he has to return due to a family tragedy.

It may come as no surprise that Casey Affleck has been out of his famous brother’s shadow for some time and has come a long way since playing supporting roles in “Good Will Hunting” and “American Pie”. Having taken star turns in films such as gritty “The Killer Inside Me”, he is no stranger to making interesting choices. In “Manchester By The Sea”, Affleck has taken on the role of a lifetime as the brooding and grief stricken Lee Chandler. The audience can see the pain and grief in his eyes, despite the character burying his heartbreak deep within himself. An encounter with his ex-wife (played by the ever versatile Michelle Williams) shows the stunning depth that he goes to in order to master his craft. I am eagerly awaiting the Oscar nominations which will be announced today. If Casey Affleck isn’t given the Best Actor statuette for this moving performance on 26th February….well I will eat my hat!

Newcomer Lucas Hedges brings a bittersweet flavour to the heartbreaking plot and has captured the industry’s attention as Lee Chandler’s 16-year old nephew, Patrick, who is entrusted into Lee’s care following his father’s untimely death. While this is no buddy movie, the unlikely pairing of these characters and the relationship between uncle and nephew dominate the heart and soul of this film.

Music is used brilliantly, with haunting pieces composed by Lesley Barber, illustrating the characters’ mindsets’ beautifully. I also enjoyed the ironic choices, such as Bob Dylan’s “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts” and Ray Charles’ interpretation of “Oh What A Beautiful Morning”, replicating the movie’s witty moments to good effect.

As I mentioned above, this film is not an easy watch and may not tie up all the loose ends for the viewer, however, where it does shine is in it’s honest portrayal of family, different processes of loss and the journey people can go through to keep internal tragedy at bay. An inspiring movie and a chance to see a master at work, “Manchester By The Sea” will keep you thinking long after the credits.

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