Around this time of the year we always get a bunch of drama films that seem specifically made to win Oscars. So far we have had La La Land, Arrival, and Fences. We also have Manchester by the Sea, a well rounded film that deals with issues of death, love, and grief.
The plot revolves around Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a handyman from Boston whose brother Joe passes away. Lee leaves his job to return to Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts to inform Joe’s son Patrick (Lucas Hedges) of the death. There, he begins to rekindle a bond with Patrick, while also coming to terms with many deeply held personal issues. As you may assume, the story deals with very heavy and complex material.
The story to Manchester of the Sea is told a lot through flashbacks. These flashbacks are cleverly written and incorporated into the film. They serve the purpose of allowing the audience to understand Chandler on many levels. The things he has been through, the life events he remembers and cares about. I thought these flashbacks were very intriguing and gave the audience great insight into our characters.
Many of the scenes in this film are long and drawn out, going on for around five minutes at a time. There is a soundtrack of opera and orchestral music that accompanies many of these scenes for dramatic effect. These scenes (along with the rest of the film) rely solely on the talent of each actor. This works well for Manchester by the Sea, because the actors fit perfectly into these characters. For most of the movie it unfolded almost like a dramatic documentary. The acting is just so convincing it is astounding.
This is the first film I have seen Casey Affleck in, and he does a fantastic job in this role. His character is very introverted, awkward, and reserved due to trauma he experienced earlier in his life. He is very blunt with people and says things how they are. This makes for some great awkward humor in the film, even though there are no ‘jokes’ actually in the film. There is one very funny scene where a women asks Affleck if he’d like to come in and have dinner. He sits silently for a good thirty seconds until he flatly answers ‘no’.
I loved Manchester by the Sea and thought it was a well acted and directed film. It hones in on the acting talents of Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges and brings the best out of both of them. The camera work and scenery of coastal Massachusetts is beautifully shot in all the right ways and was also very noteworthy. With the Oscars right around the corner, I would be willing to put money on it being nominated for multiple different categories.
I would recommend for anyone who likes deep movies about complex subject matter like death and grief to check this film out. With such a variety of content explored in Manchester by the Sea, it will have audiences thinking deeply about it for a long time.