‘Manchester by the Sea’ is the year’s most brutally emotional and raw film


courtesy of collider.com

The brilliantly emotional and heartfelt ‘Manchester by the Sea’ directed and written by Kenneth Lonergan.

a relatively disappointing year for indies, save some such as Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition and the brilliant A24 release Moonlight, Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea stands out like a lighthouse on a dark, dreary night.

Primarily aided by one of Casey Affleck’s most outstanding performances, the film is truly an explosion of emotions. It follows Lee Chandler, played by Affleck, who unexpectedly is forced into a Boston suburb, Manchester to be exact, to temporarily take care of his nephew, Patrick, following the death of his brother, Joe Chandler. While there, he is thrust into a world of memories, painful nostalgia, remorse, and emptiness.

The way this film uses the setting to its advantage is just superb. Whether it be the sounds of the city, ruggedly but steadily moving the story along, or whether it’s the peaceful sound of the ocean as it cradles the often slow-paced elegance of the film, the background sounds are a seminal part of the storytelling.

The most striking element of this film, however, is the sheer authenticity of emotion. The greatest thing about this film is that nothing is overdone. The characters are extremely relatable, especially that of Affleck’s. There is a point in every man’s life when they feel just like Lee Chandler does: broken and alone — and this usually stems from a long and difficult relationship with women. The portrayal of women in this film is one of the most complex and accurate that’s been done in a long time. Fortunately, the presence of a female in the male character’s lives was not a superficial and romanticized one. It was, as it often is in real life, a brutal endeavour to hold onto sanity itself.

courtesy of collider.com
Casey Affleck’s phenomenal performance as Lee Chandler earned him a Golden Globe nod and he is the favorite to win the Academy Award.

The concept of finality is also disturbingly present in the film, and it goes hand in hand with the somber and emotional weight of the film. There are times when each character is faced with the simple truth that “What’s done is done.” The truest and often most misrepresented facet of a dark tragedy is that sometimes there’s just nothing left to say. After time, there is just nothing. The idea that, at one point, the only way to deal with the pain is to numb it out until there is nothing: no reparations, no resolutions. Just emptiness, and the ability to keep moving forward regardless.

The brilliant writing, which Lonergan is also solely responsible for, is some of the most realistic and heartbreaking content of the year. Without shoving sadness down the viewer’s throat, it is subtle and haunting, truly connecting the viewer with the characters as they struggle through the day-to-day of dealing with an intense loss. The dialogue, direct as could be, is sometimes flat-out tear-jerking, but is also sometimes expertly and genuinely hilarious. And the execution, not just by Affleck, but by Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges, is absolutely spot-on in every way.

Nothing in this film feels fake. It’s a superior display of the most natural, unexaggerated, and accurate portrayal of sadness in cinema. Everything from the rhythm of the film, to the real-life pace of the storytelling, to the soft and pleasant visuals and music was absolutely perfect. Finally, at the very end of the year, 2016 has given us a film that will surely stand the test of time.

Rating: 5/5