Manchester By The Sea Review
Director: Kenneth Lonergan.
Screenplay/Scriptwriter Kenneth Lonergan directs his third film about family responsibility, grief and tragedy, possibly not know for writing films like Analyse This and That and Gangs of New York. Even though he's credited as the writer as well as director, which he is, the original idea wasn't his but belongs to John Krasinski and Matt Damon.
I don't believe Krasinski is as famous over here in the U.K. than he is in his native states, but you might know him from Away We Go, last year's incredible 13 Hours or the American version of The Office, plus being the husband to one lovely Emily Blunt. He discussed the idea with Damon whilst on set with The Adjustment Bureau who then, both pitched to Lonergan to write, with Damon set to make his directorial debut and star.
Lonergan during this time was having court issues with his previous and second feature Margaret, which delayed the writing, and once he had completed the screenplay, Damon was too tied up with scheduling conflicts he dropped out of directing and starring to produce only, Krasinski himself becoming an executive producer, putting Lonergan at the helm.
Not trying to take anything away from Lonergan, it's his screenplay and more his film than anyone else, with his directing style, he gives quite a bleak, realistic impression. His camera work is brilliant using distance to create that bystander viewpoint.
I don't want to give anything away, but the subject matter is harsh and traumatic as we watch Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) deal with his return from isolation, racked with remorse. A family tragedy results in him returning to his small-town-mentality home of Manchester By The Sea to watch over his nephew, both against his own choices but is obligated to do so.
Casey Affleck is certainly coming into his own and I don't mean to knock his past performances, not at all. His Gone Baby Gone I think was his killer role, remembering him from Ocean's 11, Good Will Hunting and last year's Finest Hour, but this is definitely his most powerful and stand out performance.
And he's not alone, Lucas Hedges who plays the nephew, Patrick is outstanding also, being his first major role to play and provides quite a bit of comedy relief. He does extremely well up against Affleck as the stubborn teenager who just wants to get on with his usual life of girls and ice hockey. Michelle Williams also gives an outstanding, trembling performance.
Can't say remember or even noticed Lesley Barber's score but listening to it in isolation, there's some nice pieces of music, using a minimalistic range of choral, strings and piano. What does stand out is the brilliant use of classical music in parts of the film, especially the scene with Albinoni's Adagio, one of my personal favourites.
It's quite a story, very believable, emotional and can only try to imagine parents would find this heartbreaking. It's a tough and shocking story but it doesn't appear to have a proper ending, however, I'm not sure how they could have ended it and maybe that was the best option out of many other ends. You're lead on a path wondering what the outcome will be and then it just ends with with a final conclusion but thinking about it, it was actually quite refreshing.
It's a good strong film about guilt, responsibility and forgiveness with a brilliant performance from Affleck, but the ending is weak. Certainly worth a watch just for the performance alone.
Running Time: 8
The Cast: 9
Job Description: 8
The Extra Bonus Point: 5 Affleck's performance alone.