Skip to main content

Manchester by the Sea

Film: Manchester by the Sea

Starring: Casey Affleck (Interstellar), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine) and Lucas Hedges (Kill the Messenger)

Director: Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me)

U.S. Release: November 18th, 2016 (Limited - Rated R)

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 137 minutes

As usual, the Philadelphia Film Festival debuted numerous Oscar contenders in my hometown this past October. One such film destined for the big-time and right near the top of my wish-list was Kenneth Lonergan's heavy drama, Manchester by the Sea. As a longtime fan of both Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, the buzz around their performances left me more than eager to ride along this emotional roller coaster.

Lee Chandler (Affleck) is an embittered apartment complex handyman living in the Boston area. But after receiving word that his brother has passed away from heart complications, Lee travels back to his hometown of Manchester and soon learns that he's been willed as the new legal guardian to his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges). While the teen wishes to remain in Manchester, Lee struggles to come to grips with past events that prompted him to uproot his entire life in the first place.

Manchester by the Sea's hard-hitting and somber story is masterfully complemented with subtle humor that adds a much-needed element of levity. In fact, two of the film's strongest attributes are writer and director Kenneth Lonergan's bold script and its collect of extraordinary performances. Casey Affleck's gut-wrenching turn is an absolute tour-de-force that possesses a quiet sadness which mirrors his character's scarred past. Understanding the complexities of Lee Chandler clearly takes time to develop but, after all of the pieces are finally in place, there's no doubt that Affleck's performance is one of the year's finest, if not the best. Co-star Michelle Williams isn't quite given the same attention or screen time as her counterpart, however her deeply emotional work doesn't go unnoticed. Although it's safe to anticipate strong runs to the Academy Awards for the aforementioned performers, newcomer Lucas Hedges also impresses with an eye-eopening supporting role. All in all, Manchester by the Sea captures its audience with a tender screenplay brought to life by an outstanding ensemble.

Despite its many shining qualities, Lonergan's effort struggles to sufficiently engage the audience. Manchester feels every bit of its over two hour and fifteen minute running time. The film presents countless lulls that occasionally benefit this character-driven effort, but often stand out as gaps in an otherwise well-crafted story. Furthermore, Kenneth Lonergan's name is constantly being tossed around the Best Director discussion. To the contrary, Manchester feels like a safely shot and executed feature. Lonergan doesn't take many risks and, while he should be lauded for piecing together a strong final product, this directorial effort fails to stand out as something spectacular.

Manchester by the Sea deserves to be savored for its wonderful performances and a story that goes surprisingly deep. Yet, the film isn't always an enjoyable watch. There's a grim undertone at work and poor pacing doesn't necessarily make it any easier to sit through. However, when the dust settles, Manchester by the Sea stands apart as a bitter drama that effectively captures a wide array of emotions.

Stars: 3 stars out of 4

Grade: B+


Popular posts from this blog

The Glass Castle

Destin Cretton is anything but a household name. Yet, the gifted filmmaker turned heads with his massively overlooked 2013 drama, Short Term 12. The effort bridged together Cretton's singular story and vision with the remarkable acting talents of Brie Larson. Since then Larson has gone on to win an Academy Award (Room), but her career comes full circle in her latest collaboration with Destin Cretton in the adapted film The Glass Castle.

Told non-chronologically through various flashbacks, The Glass Castle follows the unconventional childhood of gossip columnist and eventual Best-Selling author Jeannette Walls (Larson). Prior to her career as a writer, Walls grows up under the dysfunctional supervision of her alcoholic father (Woody Harrelson) and her amateur artist mother (Naomi Watts). But as Jeannette and her siblings begin to mature and fully comprehend their squatter-lifestyle and impoverished upbringing, they must work together to escape the clutches of their deadbeat parents.

ATHIRAH (2016) REVIEW : Urgensi, Relevansi, dan Intimasi dalam Film Biografi

Urgensi, kata yang tepat dan selalu menjadi poin menarik di setiap film-film tentang seseorang atau biografi. Menilik tujuan seperti apa yang ingin diwujudkan lewat beberapa sineas setelah menyelesaikan proyek film biografi. Beberapa poin ini memang terkadang masih terkesan bias, karena masih ada kepentingan politik yang berusaha ingin disampaikan. Memang, film sejatinya bisa digunakan sebagai alternatif penyampaian pesan, film memiliki misi dari pembuatnya. Sehingga, metode ini kerap digunakan sebagai medium untuk membangun atau mengembalikan sebuah citra.
Juga ada Relevansi, kata yang tepat setelah menonton sebuah film biografi. Apa yang berusaha dibangun dan ingin disampaikan oleh menonton akan berdampak pada bagaimana seseorang memiliki paradigma dengan sosok tersebut. Dua poin itu juga yang membuat Riri Riza ingin mengabadikan secara visual tentang sosok Ibu Jusuf Kalla bernama Athirah. Memoir tentang Athirah telah pertama kali dituliskan ke dalam bentuk buku oleh Albethiene En…

The Best Performances in Christopher Nolan Films

Like a writer pushing his deadline, guest-writer Greg Rouleau has stepped in to deliver the first of a three-part Movie List of the Month featuring the magnificent Christopher Nolan just before the calendar changed to August (June's list). To begin the upcoming movie list series Greg begins by highlighting the Top 10 performances featured in Nolan's film catalog. Here's a look at the selections:

#10. Matthew McConaughey - Interstellar (2014)

The apex of the “McConaissance” came when McConaughey, fresh off an Academy Award win for Best Actor, signed on to star in Nolan’s big-budget sci-fi epic, with an ensemble that included its fair share of Oscar winners and nominees.  Heading this cast in impressive fashion, McConaughey’s Cooper perfectly embodies the rural American family man who can’t deny his dormant thrill for exploration when he’s chosen to lead a team through a wormhole in hopes of discovering a new home for Earth’s inhabitants.  Coop’s great balance of heart, herois…