Film Review: Manchester by the Sea

Casey Affleck delivers a stunning performance as Lee, a character so full of self-loathing and bent on self-destruction, he could almost be Shakespearean; such is the tragedy that defines him. A socially awkward, lonely and tightly wound janitor in Boston who is forced to return to his home town following the untimely death of his older brother, he becomes the legal guardian of his teenage nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges).

What makes this such a fascinating drama is not just the development of the relationship between these two, but the study of a tortured soul facing his demons and battling for redemption.

Writer and Director Kenneth Lonergan demonstrates a clear eye and astute observation for complex characteristics and emotional catalysts, and combines myriad familial complications and pitfalls into a wonderfully sensitive story that tells of love, loss, joy and pain. Accompanied by an almost operatic score that enhances the drama and sense of tragedy, this is a truly accomplished, polished and beautifully crafted character-based drama.

Manchester by the Sea certainly won’t be to everybody’s taste as it is a slow burning and bleak character study. However, in terms of pure accomplished drama and story-telling, it is sublime.

5/5 John Morgan-Clarke

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