One of the most honest and sincere movies to come to the screen in recent memory, Manchester by the Sea is more than a drama–it’s a microcosm of life that speaks volumes to the humanity in all of us. Honestly we’re looking at a best picture nomination here, and a very possible win in that category. Set in modern day New Hampshire, this compelling drama deals with the themes of grief, family ties, blame and bitterness in a way that is as pertinent as it is poignant. Casey Affleck, brother of Ben Affleck, takes the reigns as Lee Chandler, a young janitor with a bleak view of life based on his past who is suddenly thrust into the role of executor after his older brother’s heart gives out. Facing a multitude of uphill battles and decisions including the care and upbringing of his 16 year old nephew, Lee must first find peace within as his demons threaten to end his purpose.
Manchester by the Sea excels in many areas but where it stands out the most is the incredible structuring of a fictitious narrative that feels so genuine that audience becomes emotionally attached before the inciting incident of the story. Every line, every interaction, ever struggle and whim is incredibly authentic to the day to day paradigm of human interaction. These characters become our friends–their hopes and dreams our fondest wish. It has been said that a film or play’s success is about 70% dependent on casting alone and Manchester by the Sea exonerates that statistic with every single cast member with an incredible amount of class and emotion. Casey Affleck is absolutely brilliant–believe me when I say everyone has met someone just like his character and it will resonate with you deeply. Nothing is milked in this film, nothing over-sensationalized. Manchester by the Sea is a bare-bones honest to goodness look at the threads that tie humanity together and its a beautiful thing.
Primary caution: Strong language throughout. Does not take away from the raw emotion of the story.