Manchester By the Sea Movie Review
by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"
Writer/Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol, Lucas Hedges
Running Time: 2 hrs 17 mins
How It Can Be Seen: In Theaters Now
One of the best and harrowing films was officially released in late December of 2016, and so if you've seen it, you'll know that it's very deserving of its 6, yes that's right, 6 (count'em up) Oscar Nominations! Manchester By The Sea has such a simple yet effective story. It's about a man named Lee, who is living an extremely routine, low brow life. He's a handyman who is not very personable. He seemingly hates being around people. Any sort of interaction he seems to be confronted with by other people are met with a man who is despondent and indifferent to how to they feel or the situation itself. The only interaction he has with people is to snap out of nowhere and get into fights at the local bar in an attempt to expel any feelings of anger. Until one day he is notified that his brother has passed away suddenly and is then faced with the possibility of being a legal guardian over his estranged teenage nephew. As the story/movie progresses, and through some incredibly well done editing, we learn of a tremendously tragic past Lee is harboring. A past that is causing him to carry around a massively heavy bag of guilt. And the way Casey, as Lee, carries himself while walking or even standing, you can tell the guilt has taken its toll on him. Michelle Williams is a gem in this film as she plays Lee's Ex-Wife Randi. And the two of them, along with fairly fresh newcomer Lucas Hedge, who plays Lee's nephew Patrick, all give some of the most heart-wrenching and powerful performances, especially of Michelle and Casey's careers.Their performances are engrossing and really do carry you through the film from beginning to end. They keep you glued to every moment without fail. The whole cast is phenomenal and all give truly hard hitting performances, definitely worth the nominations.
Kenneth Lonergan, whom if you follow his career, is one mainly of screenwriting for other films such as Gangs Of New York and Analyze This. He really knows depth of character. And it works especially given that he wrote AND directed this film. He knows exactly what he wants, what he envisions, how to get it from his actors and ultimately film it the way he pictures it. He also knows how to balance drama, which swallows you up with every intention of holding you captive, and then sprinkling in moments of levity so it isn't always so serious and heavy handed. And you have to give props to Matt Damon. Yes, THE Matt Damon, as he was originally going to play the part of Lee until a circumstance including scheduling conflict lead him to make the wise decision to not be IN the movie, but to best serve as a producer. And he fought hard and rallied for this film. He understood how special the script and story was and really wanted to make it happen for Kenneth, who awaited patiently through all of its fall-throughs and re-start ups. The wait, was well worth it! As everyone involved with Manchester By The Sea gave us all a special film to hold in our hearts and lock it away safely!