Thursday, 9 February 2017

Manchester by the Sea

The ultimate challenge for a filmmaker is creating a rich enough atmosphere to connect audiences with the deeper themes and emotions they are presenting on screen. From sorrow and loss to heart and love, Manchester by the Sea delves deeply into the story of a man who’s lost his way; his sense of self.  Not a single opportunity is lost in creating a rich emotional story for all audiences to get absorbed into.

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is a lonesome yet irritable man living a reserved life in Boston. He seems content living out his days completing odd jobs for cash and moping his way about the city, until news of his brother’s (Kyle Chandler) passing summons him back to his hometown to take care of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). This return to his past fully unearths Lee’s demons; an emotional tragedy linked to his past he has clearly been trying to forget. With Lee’s past tragedy showing itself once again, he is tested as he is forced to confront all he has tried to run away from, with relations such as his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) being shoved back into his life.

The dynamics explored between Lee and various other characters are fantastic. A man who has completely shut himself off emotionally, forced to face the realities he has been running from for so long; no doubt a big ask. Affleck nails this range perfectly, while the severity of the situation is contrasted with vibrant flashbacks to Lee’s former life, making his emotional unavailability even more jarring. Surprisingly tasked with the job of taking care of his nephew, Lee is distant and unsupportive to a teenager who doesn’t want to admit he is grieving. Tense freak-outs line their dynamic as grief displays itself in strange ways, and Affleck’s range is tested as Lee looks to battle fresh grief and old sorrow at the same time.

As a whole, this emotional atmosphere is created and maintained well. A blanket of calm seems to lay over a catastrophe of pain and loss in Lee’s life, and the audience can really feel the tension. As the severity of Lee’s personal situation begins to reveal itself, this aura increases in intensity, and by the end of the film you’d find yourself completely engaged. Affleck’s acting ability headlines the credits for this success, but merit must be given to writer/director Kenneth Lonergan who no doubt worked tirelessly and meticulously to create this rich environment on screen.

With The Oscars fast approaching, Manchester by the Sea has definitely thrown itself in the running for a plethora of awards. The rich, emotional acting across the board has not gone unnoticed, as the audience really gets pulled into the story of sorrow and grief on display. Exploring the entire range of human emotion, Manchester by the Sea is a great flick, as it easily draws in audiences and leaves them wanting more from the emotionally turbulent story.

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