‘MANCHESTER BY THE SEA’ (2016) MOVIE REVIEW – Casey Affleck Shines


‘Manchester by the Sea’ is a Drama starring Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler, and Lucas Hedges and is one of the best picture nominees going into this years Oscars. It follows Lee (Affleck) who after the death of his brother Joe (Chandler) finds out that he is the nominated guardian of his nephew Patrick (Hedges). They must work with each other overcoming the past and the present to try adjust to the changes now that Joe is gone. One of the biggest praises this film has been getting is for the performance by Casey Affleck and after seeing this film i don’t think anyone can deny that it is by a mile his best performance and he really does deserve the Academy Award. But aside from his phenomenal performance i think this movie is just fine. ‘Enjoyed’ is a word that doesn’t really work with this film but i will say it was a worthwhile watch that does stretch a little too long i would say. The length isn’t anything drastic but in conjunction with the slow pace it does feel like a while. Some supporting performances are very strong and the story itself is a depressing one but an oddly interesting one also.


As i mentioned, Casey Affleck is incredible here so much so that i think he carried the entire film for me. His performance as this character who has gone through a lot of shit in his life was emotionally riveting at times and he never once broke character. But there are a few supporting roles who play off Affleck’s character really well and i think only elevated his performance. Michelle Williams had some powerful scenes throughout the film as Randi and she really added to the films aim of getting you to know Lee’s past and how certain events affected him differently to others. But the strongest relationship in the film is between Lee and Patrick where Lucas Hedges does a fantastic job at challenging Affleck and fuelling his character’s motivations and actions. He puts in a very good performance himself but his major purpose here really is building up Lee’s character and i’d say it all worked for creating and developing this very simple yet complex person.


Outside of Casey Affleck’s performance and the supporting roles which build up his character i just found the rest of the film ok. The pacing was was slow but it worked for the tone of the film which never really strays away from being very sombre and quite dark. There are moments where a bit of comedy is injected and it was fine but the whole film has such a depressing tone that you just don’t know whether to laugh or not so it was just a little weird. Some of the cinematography techniques in the film i liked, some long takes, and just beautifully set up shots were moments of intensified intrigue. The story itself is very simple and not a huge focus; an uncle looks after his nephew and there’s some conflict and an interesting relationship. As there are no major plot points apart from like 2 this means it is the characters who are driving any interest in the film and when it strays away from Lee and occasionally his relationship with Patrick the film shows its flaws.


So in the end, Manchester by the Sea will most likely be remembered for containing Casey Affleck’s best performance and for me at least everything else was pretty average and I don’t think it will win Best Picture but i’d say it has an outside shot. One of the other issues this film has going forward is the rewatchability factor, i don’t see anyone watching this movie and then eagerly awaiting the chance to check it out with other people. Not because it is bad but because as i mentioned it just is quite dark, sombre, sad, and depressing. I’d still recommend it to people who would enjoy a more Oscar calibre drama but the chance of me checking it out at the same time is next to zero.


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