By Rhys Ironmonger (Berlin)

 

I just got out of the cinemas from seeing Manchester by the Sea written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan with an absolutely stellar performance by Casey Affleck, which comes to no surprise as to why he has earned himself a Golden Globe from his work in this film.

The film is a fairly bleak story that follows Lee Chandler (Affleck) a reserved and almost mysterious handy man living a quiet life in Quincy Boston until he receives a phone call that his brother Joe (Chandler) has passed away from heart disease leaving his 16 year old son Patrick (Hedges) behind.

The film jumps between timelines with flash backs to before Joe’s death even as far back as when Patrick is just a little boy, cleverly feeding you pieces of information as to why Lee might be the way he is today and why he can’t quite be a normal member of society. Although the film has a very dark tone and from the outside looking in is actually a depressing scenario, it does an excellent job of keeping the laughs consistent with great chemistry between Lee and Patrick. That’s not to mean that it doesn’t get tough or there is no conflict between the two, there is one scene in particular where Hedges shows glimpses of brilliance for the young actor with the buildup emotion, having tried to hide the sadness it eventually comes pouring out as the young man copes with the death of his father Joe.

Manchester by the Sea deals with some pretty somber subjects including loss, alcoholism, torn families and self-abusive behaviour. It seems to be one bit of bad news after the next and you do without doubt feel sorry for Lee throughout the 137 minutes, The cinematography is crisp, a lot of wide shots of the boating town Manchester giving it a really authentic feeling coupled with the early flash backs of Joe and Lee. This is complimented by a solid score that tugs on the heart strings in just the right moments.

What I enjoyed most about this film as mentioned earlier is Affleck’s outstanding performance, I have seen many films that follows a man who’s down on his luck and the world is against him but Affleck pulls it off brilliantly and convincingly with ease. He is completely way over his head dealing with the situation and it is truly believable. It has effortlessly shown another side to him and he is fast becoming one of my favourite actors in the business, showing flexibility for many roles to come I’m sure.

I didn’t know a whole lot about the film coming in but walked away having loved it, with enjoyable surprise cameos from Tate Donovan and Matthew Broderick and a luminous performance from Affleck the film oozes class with a touch of indie feel to it. If you’re in the mood for a darker film that deals with some hard topics along with some pretty constant laughs and great directing then it is a must see.

Rating: 4/5

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