Manchester by the Sea is an American drama film written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan and stars Casey Affleck as the main character. It received critical acclaim upon release to the point that American Film Institute regards it as the top ten film of the year. What’s more Casey Affleck won the Golden Globe award for Best Actor as well. With so much awards being given to this film, is it truly that great? I’m here to find out with my own eyes and let’s continue below!
The basic premise is about Lee, a widower who works odd jobs and got a call one day about his brother’s death. Without his knowledge, he was made the guardian of his brother’s son, Patrick, of which everything had been planned out well in advance by his brother. However, Lee was still haunted by his past that his own behaviour became very unsociable and he had to learn to get along with his nephew. Problem starts to creep up as Lee begins to suffer from both his past and his current situation.
The movie very very slow in the beginning. It aims to build up the relations between Lee and Patrick and other characters in a natural manner, thus giving us a sense of passing time. Also, it uses one pretty great technique to illustrate the changes that is happening along the film. What I found is that the film uses harsh light in the beginning, which is set in the winter. Then, as the story progresses and the winter turns to spring to summer etc, the light becomes softer and gentler. Yet, the colour is still cold overall, which hints at Lee’s state of mind for the entire of the film. This is pretty cool and I like the director’s approach in telling us the character’s feeling indirectly.
Casey Affleck plays a convincing role as someone who suffers from a traumatic past and extremely unsociable, yet still retains his own humanity and love for others. Other characters are pretty good as well, especially Patrick, whose contrasting personality and social circle actually fits well with Lee. The funny moments in between are truly genuine and looks very natural and don’t feel forced. However, I don’t really like the ending which sort of ending it pretty abruptly. It feels unfinished to me that the film ends on such a note after spending so much time building it up from the beginning. The music soundtracks, though, really emphasise loneliness and being in a loss. They are subtle yet strong in setting the mood and atmosphere.