Review of Casey Affleck’s Oscar caliber tour-de-force “Manchester By The Sea”
By Carter Bagley
Casey Affleck has been a seemingly underrated talent for years now. Ever since he first broke on the scene in the shadow of his older and more famous brother, Ben, he’s been tragically overlooked for his sheer talent of conveying such deep emotion through his stare and expression alone. Now it seems this year he’s finally getting the universal recognition he’s always deserved. The plot of this film is typical “oscar-bait” formula but the performances and the little hints of comedy lightly sprinkled through really make this one stand ahead of the pack. Kenneth Lonergan who has become a master at crafting powerful and emotional masterpieces directs the hell out of this film and knows exactly how he wants every single line and glance delivered and it’s because of this that the actors really thrive. Casey Affleck plays Lee Chandler who is a depressed and distant handyman in Boston who must travel to his hometown of Manchester, Massachusetts after his older brother passes away. He must cope with the death and find out what it means for his teenage nephew while also battling horrifying memories he has with his hometown. The film really rests on the shoulders of the younger Affleck who proves himself capable of going toe-to-toe with any other actor of his generation. Throughout the film you see this deep and unexplainable sorrow in his eyes and it’s only in time that Lonergan brilliantly reveals the details to this harrowing story and Affleck’s performance really starts to make sense. I will say that if this isn’t an oscar-winning performance than I don’t know what it is. Newcomer Lucas Hedges plays the teenage son of Lee’s deceased brother and he also delivers an impressive and magnetic performance that shows a boy struggling with loss in an honest and subtle fashion. Michelle Williams is up for an oscar also as she plays Lee’s ex-wife who painfully stirs up old memories for Lee who desperately tries to cope with mistakes he made in the past. This film deserves all the recognition it’s being given and any other year might be sweeping the awards floor with it’s strong emotion and powerful themes. Normally I would not expect to be effected emotionally by a film as much as I was after I saw it and the credit is owed to every single aspect of talent that went into this modern emotional masterpiece. “Manchester By The Sea” is a devastating and extremely powerful human story that is guaranteed to move anybody who goes in and gets invested in the film and the many touching performances throughout this tragic drama. It may not have the style and quirkiness of “La La Land” or the social and topical themes of “Moonlight” but it makes up for in it in sheer classic quality and a dramatic timelessness that will never become outdated.