Manchester By The Sea

Affleck’s performance is almost like pandora’s box. Bleak and motionless on the outside, yet we know inside there is so much more.

Since 2012, each of the academy awards for best actor has been given to performances of a commanding or physical nature. Even Eddie Redmayne in The Theory Of Everything, though somewhat awkward during the film’s opening sequences, turns to the physicality of playing Professor Stephen Hawking with motor neurone disease. These are often performances with immense power and control within them, they are wholly the focus of the film. This repeatedly stems from each actor’s ability to create an understanding of the character’s mental standing, through the physical actions they display. Casey Affleck in Manchester By The Sea is not commanding; Nor is he physical; But the oscar is almost certainly his. What he manages so beautifully, is to show us how little visualisation is needed to portray exactly what he is feeling.

Manchester By The Sea tells the story of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a janitor completely disconnected from the outside world. That is, until he is called back to his home town of Manchester-By-The-Sea after his brother suffers a cardiac arrest. Lee is then forced into the responsibility of becoming guardian to his brother’s son (Lucas Hedges).

Affleck’s development of Chandler, as a man battling brutally within himself, is so intricate and detailed it becomes difficult not to fall into mesmerisation for the film. Each movement Affleck makes tells of how there is so much more to his character. The performance is exactly like pandora’s box. Bleak and motionless on the outside, yet we know inside there is so much more.


Affleck is supported perfectly by a full and thriving cast. From young Lucas Hedges showing just what a prospect he is, to the underused Michelle Williams displaying exactly what was already known about her stunning performances. Yet it is perhaps director Kenneth Lonergan who enables Affleck more than any other single section of the film’s mechanism. The film is meticulously pieced together, interchanging between past and present seamlessly without over complicating and slowly release information in an engaging and direct manner. Lonergan has created a piece that is so brilliant at telling its story. Manchester By The Sea flows gently, something many dramas find difficult to match.

This is an engaging and understated film of brilliance. Lee Chandler is a character with serious dæmons destroying him from the inside and there will never be a time when his performance isn’t breathtaking.  Whether its the realistic dialogue or the aforementioned supporting cast, the film is virtually perfect. And it will break your heart.


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