Manchester By The Sea tells the story of janitor Lee Chandler, played by Casey Affleck in a career defining role. The film opens with Lee living a secluded existence in Quincy, Massachusetts before he is called back to his home town of Manchester after the death of his brother. Lee is unexpectedly given permanent custody of his sixteen year old nephew Patrick and is forced to abandon his solitary life, as well as face the demons of his past. As Lee learns to cope with this sudden responsibility, we are given glimpses into his previous life and what led him to leave his home town.
While there are many clichéd Hollywood films featuring similar plot lines, this is no such tale. Manchester By The Sea is a story of loss and grief and is one of the most beautiful yet heart-breaking films I have ever seen. A week later, I still find myself thinking about the film and its central character every day. Casey Affleck delivers a nuanced and haunting performance that is the highlight of his career. He is a most deserved winner of the Best Actor Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards, not to mention the slew of awards he has received for such a challenging role.
Other notable mentions must go to Michelle Williams, who is incredible as Lee’s ex-wife Randi, and Lucas Hedges in a memorable performance as Lee’s nephew Patrick. He is a remarkable new talent and looks set to have a bright future in Hollywood. Both deserve all the recognition they have received this awards season.
“My heart was broken and I know yours is broken too.”
While this movie is a tragic tear-jerker, it has many comic moments, particularly as Lee deals with caring for his nephew and all the trials and tribulations that come with teenage life. Lighter touches include Patrick’s recurring requests for money and his juggling of his two girlfriends as well as the witty banter between Patrick and his uncle.
This film has now become a firm favourite of mine and I can’t recommend it enough. A note of warning though; tissues are strongly advised when viewing this movie. I experienced a wave of emotions throughout the film, from laughing hysterically one minute to weeping uncontrollably the next moment. Manchester By The Sea is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time and it is worthy of all its accolades and critical acclaim.