Manchester by the Sea is a film tipped to do extremely well during this awards season and, having now seen it, it's easy to see why because Kenneth Lonergan's film is utterly brilliant, well and truly living up to the high praise it has received since doing the festival circuits towards the tail end of last year. 

Haunted by his past, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) struggles to deal with becoming the legal guardian of his nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), after the death of his brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler).
I need to start by saying just how wonderfully written by Kenneth Lonergan Manchester by the Sea is, both the characters and narrative combining to present one of the more realistic depictions of grief I've ever seen in a film. Lonergan taps into the human emotion magnificently, leading to an emotional core to the film that hits silently yet hard at the same time.

The fragmented narrative Lonergan chooses to use really gives depth to the story, cutting away to flashbacks of Lee's past where we see his relationship with his brother, Joe, and also of his fractured marriage to Randi, making Lee a character the audience can empathise with when he is forced into his current situation. Lonergan's screenplay does include quite a few light-hearted moments, to my surprise, particularly between Lee and Patrick, and they genuinely serve the film extremely well.

The performances in Manchester by the Sea are quite honestly some of the best you'll see all year. Casey Affleck gives a superb lead performance that Lonergan's film well and truly deserves, and he would definitely be a worthy winner of all the major awards, one scene in particular that should seal them all for him. Disjointed from friends and family after the death of his brother, Affleck's often muted performance highlights the lack of connection Lee has with society, an almost silent rage feeling like it's constantly building.

Lucas Hedges is a revelation as Patrick, opting to deal with his grief in the opposite way and keeping himself busy and surrounded by friends. Hedges more than holds his own when sharing a scene with Affleck and certainly has a big future ahead of him. Though she doesn't appear in the film as much as I thought she would, Michelle Williams does a brilliant job with one heartbreaking scene in particular.

Manchester by the Sea is brilliant example of filmmaking from Kenneth Lonergan, who uses both narrative and character in such an effective way, leading to one of the more captivating films of the past decade.

Verdict: ★★★★★


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