Manchester By The Sea Review

The Plot

An Uncle (Casey Affleck) is asked to take care of his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges) after the boy’s father dies.

The Good

Casey Affleck gives his career best performance in this small but powerful story of family and loss. Set years after a tragedy has befallen him, Lee Chandler (Affleck) returns to his hometown to settle his brother’s affairs after he dies. Instead he discovers that he has been named as the legal guardian to his nephew, Patrick (Hedges) and is expected to relocate to Manchester By The Sea to raise him, leaving behind a life of solitude he was content with and returning to face demons of his past.

While Affleck brings an intense sense of loneliness with perfect precision, it is enhanced by the acting skills of Hedges who manages to give as good as he gets alongside Affleck. With Lee unprepared for dealing with bringing up a grieving teenage boy, and Patrick struggling to come to terms with the loss of his father, these two characters bring a melancholy sense of despair between them.

Also of note is the addition of Michelle Williams as Lee’s wife, Randi. Williams doesn’t get as much screen time as her male co-stars but the time she is allowed is not left to waste with one particularly heart-breaking scene with Affleck becoming instantly memorable before it’s even over.

Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s third directed film manages to bring a cold and desolate story to the screen in every way possible thanks to cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes’ (Martha Marcy May Marlene) dull tones of a wintery Manchester By The Sea.

The Bad

As mentioned above, Williams doesn’t get much screen time in the films 137 minute runtime, which makes the film feel much emptier than it could have been where she given more room to breathe. Lonergan manages to bring awards worthy performances to the screen which is still a triumph, but the spotlight seems to drown Affleck in the spotlight and only gives Williams the briefest of light.

The Ugly Truth

Lonergan directs this cold and heart-breaking film which succeeds in bringing career best performances particularly from Casey Affleck. While Michelle Williams brings a performance just as strong, it is focused on a little less than it should have been.

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