Film Review: “Manchester by the Sea”

001Starring: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams
Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan
Rated: R
Running time: 2 hrs 17 mins
Amazon Studios

Our Score: 5 out of 5 Stars

Lee Chandler (Affleck) is the kind of man who just likes to go about his business. The maintenance man for a group of apartment buildings, his days are spent shoveling snow, fixing leaks and helping tenants unclog their toilets. He doesn’t say much, taking in the world with sad eyes. But when his brother suddenly dies, Lee is forced to not only deal with the fallout from that tragedy but another one from his past as well.

Featuring award-worthy performances from its three leads, “Manchester by the Sea,” is the perfect drama to off-set a multiplex full of Bad Santas and Dwayne Johnson. Lee’s brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler) has died and Lee must return to his old hometown to attend to things. While there he visits his nephew (Hedges) at his ice hockey practice. Several of the players gossip about Uncle Lee, though one maintains that “it never happened.” As the film progresses, we see Lee dealing with being charged with raising his nephew at the same time having to relive some of his past.

The story is told seamlessly by writer/director Lonergan, with modern day easily blending into the past, slowly building up to why everyone in this small town appears to know of Lee. Affleck has steadily grown from the young tag along in “Good Will Hunting” to an actor of great range. His eyes often saying what he won’t with his mouth, Lee’s simple life is anything but simple. As Lee’s former wife, Michelle Williams bares her emotions in a performance sure to break your heart. As the young nephew suddenly left father-less, Hedges equally impresses. All three actors are sure to draw some serious consideration come awards season, as will the film itself. Easily one of the years best!

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