Read the review after the jump.
MANCHESTER BY THE SEAReview by Popa Razvan
"Manchester by the Sea" is one of those rare cases of independent films backed by Hollwood stars. Matt Damon pushed this project to fruition and brought in writer/director Kenneth Lonergan with whom he previously worked in 2011 on "Margaret". The plan was for Damon to direct and star in the lead role, but when he couldn't do that because of scheduling conflicts, he called upon Lonergan to take his place at the helm and his friend Casey Affleck to play the lead.
Affleck stars as Lee Chandler, a morose Boston apartment-building janitor who is forced to return to his hometown of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts when his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies of a heart attack. Here he discovers that Joe has named him the legal guardian of Patrick (Lucas Hedges), his teenage son. Lee is reluctant to take on the responsability, because of a past tragedy. The two embark on a soul-searching journey and struggle to resolve their issues before moving on.
The film is solidly built around its characters, and they are very well fleshed out. The story is pretty straightforward with flashbacks completing the required backstory. It takes a while before it really gets off the ground, so if at first it may seem boring, bear with it, it's the kind of film that takes its time to build connections, but when it does, it really sinks its teeth into you. Despite its depressing subject, it's also not that bleak, balancing drama and humor quite well.
This type of film relies heavily on the talent of its cast, and everyone is great. Affleck delivers probably the best performance of his career, perfectly channeling the darkness and doubt of a man who has demons to deal with and picks fights with random strangers, but is suddenly left in charge of a young man's future. Hedges gives a breakout performance, building a believable troubled teen without overdoing it. Michelle Williams also stands out as Randi, Lee's ex-wife.
At first glance it wouldn't seem like there's much to say about this film, but the truth is that it's not a movie you can write about. You have to watch it for yourself and experience the story. It's powerful stuff, but it's also not a universal recipe. It will work for some, but not for others. Keep that in mind if you decide to see this film.
- Powerful story and well-rounded characters
- Great acting from lead and supporting actors
- The narrative is deliberately slow and builds the story methodically.
- The narrative is deliberately slow, and may prove more than some can take
ENTERTAINMENT FACTOR SCORE: 80%
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