I finally got around to seeing Manchester by the Sea a few days ago. I had heard so many great things about this film, so my expectations going into viewing it were very high, but the film did not disappoint. The film is nominated for six Oscars, and I look forward to seeing, which awards the film ends up winning. The acting is the highlight of the film, especially Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges’ performance. They were both nominated for acting Oscars, and it is easy to see why based on the emotional depth that they both bring to their role.
The film had been described to me as one of the saddest films in recent memory. I would say this is probably a fair description given the amount of tragedy that happens to the characters. The sadness of the story does not take away from the greatness of the film though. The film begins with the Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) receiving a call informing him that his brother has passed away. Lee then discovers to his surprise that his brother has named him as the guardian for his son Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Lee is a janitor in Boston, who is very antisocial and depressed. His demeanor is clearly the result of a tragedy in his past life, but this event is not revealed to the audience for some time. Lee wants what is best for Patrick, but it is clear that he believes that he is incapable of providing that. Although it seems that there are not any other options for Patrick as his mother, a former drug addict, has been gone for some time and all other relatives have moved away.
As Patrick and Lee spend more time together, Patrick struggles to understand why Lee is having such difficulty accepting his role as his guardian. Patrick is very involved in Manchester, and the concept of moving away frustrates him beyond belief. In fact Patrick explodes at Lee saying, “All my friends are here. I got two girlfriends and I’m in a band. You’re a janitor in Quincy. What the hell do you care where you live?” This line is somewhat humorous, but also shows the frustration Patrick is dealing with in this difficult time of his life. Patrick doesn’t understand that Lee’s aversion to taking care of him is based more around personal demons and guilt than anything else.
I personally believe and hope that Casey Affleck takes home the Best Actor Oscar this year for his performance. This is not an easy role, and the effectiveness of the film depends on its strength. He perfectly captures the feeling of being completely lost because of grief and guilt. Hedges’ performance is extremely impressive as well given his young age and limited acting experience. His character can be funny at times and extremely emotional at others. I really look forward to seeing where his career will go from here because he is clearly extremely talented. Michele Williams plays Lee’s ex-wife Randi, and has a very limited role in the film, but she really shows off in her small scenes. She also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, which is extremely impressive given her very limited screen time.
I can’t wait to watch the Oscars tonight and see how Manchester by the Sea does. It is definitely one of the best films of the year and really deserved its nominations and hopefully will receive several wins.
Here is a very good review for the film.