By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas, US)


Manchester by The Sea: A Film Set In Realism With Emotional Power

Manchester by The Sea is the new passion project by Kenneth Lonergan who wrote avid directed this film. It’s a film that encompasses brilliant performances from Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, and Lucas Hedges. Manchester by The Sea tells the original story of a brooding, irritable, loner who works as a handyman for a Boston apartment building. In which after the passing of his brother he is asked to take responsibility and legal guardianship for his nephew. This causes him to re battle his troubled past and wrestle with his internal conflicts that have caused him to become the man who he is today. This is a film that artistically and filmically dissects the themes of grief, youth, maturity, guilt, depression, resilience, love, reliance, and happiness. This is a film that encompasses all of these themes through an amazing use of visual storytelling, relatable and intriguing characters, and masterful direction that is set in this incredible sense of realism.

Manchester by The Sea is a film that is going to be vilified by the general audience due to its slow pacing and its lack of excitement. But, anyone that knows anything about the art of filmmaking will see this for the amazing piece of cinematic brilliance that it is. First let’s discuss the filmmaking of this film. Kenneth Lonergan did a great job of letting these character explain their ideals and motivations by dialogue, also by using long steady shots on their faces and the locations that surrounds them. These actors did a great job of encompassing that visual storytelling through movement and facial expressions. This film also does combine the past with the present, and the editing between these two time zones is so seem less. It actually took me a second to realize that I was watching a flashback. Because the only hint you receive is that Casey Affleck’s hair is a little messier and shirt color has changed. These long shots also create this amazing sense of realism. You feel as if you are intruding on these character’s lives and it creates this sense of intimacy between you and the films characters.

This film is so set in realism to where it actually feels offensive to call them characters. This is because of the masterful direction, but also the incredible jaw-dropping acting. This is the best acting I have seen all year. Casey Affleck plays such a subdued character and does an incredible job in creating this sense of intrigue as well as heartfelt emotion towards his internal conflicts. Michelle Williams also knocks it out of the park by making you feel this sense of dilemma. In the fact that you understand her motivations but you fail to comprehend her actions in how she treated Casey Affleck’s character due to your strong love for him as a character. Lucas Hedges also is amazing in this film. He’s so relatable due to everyone’s familiarity with youth and learning to mature. You get to see him grow as a character, and learn the importance of love along with the reasons of why you should rely on others while you are in a time of grief.

This script is so beautifully written and realized. The only flaw I actually have with this film is based upon its script. Because the opening of this film gave me a sense of hesitation. Because the first 30 minutes of this film you do no find Casey Affleck’s character to be enjoyable or relatable. You almost begin to hate him at first until you learn about his motivations as a character. Which hits you so hard and blindsides you with very morally intriguing questions surrounding grief and loss. How would you react to these situations? What would you do to overcome it? The only other flaw I can think of is the films slow pacing. Because due to the lack of love you feel for Affleck’s character at the beginning of the film, I could understand why some people would say it feels dragged down. But, once you learn that character development it wraps you up with this emotionally powerful narrative that encompasses realism and heartfelt themes.

Manchester by The Sea floored me with its emotion. It deserves to be Oscar nominated for best picture, best actor, best actress, best original screenplay, and best supporting actor. It does a beautiful job of flushing out this sense of intimacy through masterful direction and powerful performances. I’m going to give Manchester by The Sea an A! What did you think of Manchester by The Sea? What’s your favorite drama of 2016? What dramas are you looking forward to in 2017? Let me know down in the comments below and as always have a blessed day.

Rating: 5/5



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