By Justin McKinney, Staff Writer
Kenneth Lonergan directed what will perhaps be 2017’s best drama with Manchester by the Sea.
Produced by Matt Damon and starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, and rising star Lucas Hedges, the film delivers raw emotion that I doubt Hollywood has seen in ages.
Affleck portrays a depressed handy-man living in Charlestown. His life changes overnight after his brother passes away from heart failure, leaving him as the sole guardian of his sixteen year old nephew.
Affleck’s character is then called back to the town he and his brother grew up in, and despite the fact that Manchester is one of the most beautiful towns in the country, he can’t stand it.
As he struggles to cope with being in Manchester and attempting to guide his nephew through the death of his father, Affleck is forced to deal with the demons of his past that he has apparently been running from for ten years.
He begins seeing his ex-wife, portrayed by Williams, around town with some frequency. As simple as the plot may seem in this description, it is the depth of each character that brings the story to life.
Each character is extremely well-developed and as they experience emotional distress throughout the film, the audience feels for them as if they’d known them personally.
While the screenplay and direction certainly gives the characters depth, it is the performance from each and every cast members that really brings the film full circle.
Many films that deal with raw emotions, such as loss, regret, and guilt, end up being overly emotional and unbelievable. However, Manchester by the Sea avoids this trap as the entire cast delivers very real performances that are complimented by their wonderful chemistry as a whole.
I realize that the purpose of every film is to capture a story and make the audience feel as though they are living it, so to speak.
Manchester by the Sea goes so far beyond the gold standard for Hollywood storytelling.
It puts you into the lives of the characters and forces you to feel what they feel. With this cast it is simply unavoidable.
It is not shocking to see how this happened, as Lonergan is no stranger to creating gold on-screen.
In 2002 he wrote one of the year’s best films in the epic period drama Gangs of New York, while he was not in the director’s chair, Longeran was nominated for Best Screenplay at the Academy Awards, Gangs of New York garnered a total of six nominations that year.
The film also garnered a large amount of praise for the way in which its script served as a springboard for actors Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio to give some of the best performances of their career.
Longeran has clearly done it again, as Manchester by The Sea has already been honored by the Academy as they have garnered nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (Longeran), Best Actor (Affleck), Best Supporting Actor (Hedges), Best Supporting Actress (Williams), and Best Original Screenplay.
While I have always been one not to buy into the Oscar hype, this movie has done far more than impress critics as its Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score is at 96 percent. This is NOT just some Academy-pleasing junk that the average person cannot enjoy.
Simply, Manchester by the Sea is a fantastic drama that appeals to critics and viewers alike due to its uncanny ability to capture human emotions without sacrificing its dignity and becoming cheesy.
I have yet to see a movie that portrays human feeling as accurately as this film has, and I doubt we will see another drama like it for some time. So, get some cash, grab some tissues, and go out and see Manchester by the Sea.