By Mandela Wells
I have said before to people and I say it again: Casey Affleck is arguably the most underrated actor in the industry today. He deserves more credit than he has received over the years. Affleck’s filmography is as impressive and diverse as his acting ability. From his fascinating turn in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,“ his tough Boston PI character in “Gone Baby Gone,“ the powerful performance he gave in “The Killer Inside Me,“ the charisma in “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,“ and his gritty work in “Triple 9.“ Affleck can go places and bring the emotion needed.
Affleck once again does such a remarkably job in “Manchester by the Sea.“ Such an heartfelt film that really gets you deep. Affleck, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges, and director Kenneth Lonergan bring to you a tremendously well done production that hits on every cylinder imaginable.
Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a janitor living outside his hometown of Manchester, Massachusetts. Lee’s brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) passes away, and Lee is made the guardian of Joe’s son Patrick (Hedges). Lee, having lived away from home of for a specific reason, is shocked and extremely hesitant to go forth with the changes that will occur from his brother’s will. He returns to figure out what he is going to do with Patrick and also to deal with his ex wife Randi (Williams) and the community in Manchester.
A phenomenal film! I was surprised by the humor but don’t get it twisted it is an emotional story. The entire sea setting is perfect because oceans and water in general show your reflection and when your at a place with that you immediately start thinking and reflecting back to days long past. An excellent setting decision from the script. Its even more interesting how the redemption in the story doesn’t come intentionally for these folks. It kinda just happens for them and they find they’re way again or a new life at least.
The cinematography was great, as it really captured that Massachusetts bay area cold the distinct houses and settings of a place close to the sea where again people reflect. The editing was done really well even with the flashbacks. The script overall was really well thought out and well executed. Kenneth Lonergan wasn’t a name I knew much about, but his grappling of this was really unique. He deals more with the nostalgia that happens after the tragedy than the actual tragedy even though it serves as the drive of the film. Lonergan focuses mainly on the guilt in the film as well and that serves as some really fascinating elements that we don’t see a lot of in these films. He did a fantastic job.
Casey Affleck gives a career best performance that shatters his past roles. Along with Patrick, Lee is having to hold on an immeasurable amount of grief, pain, and even anger as he is forced to come back and face so many difficult things from his life. Casey’s low distinct tone in speech as well as his ability to convey these feelings makes him the perfect actor for this role. He has an Oscar nomination locked in tight for this. Michelle Williams was great here! She nailed the Boston accent so well. One of her best scenes was the reunion she had with Lee. She also deals with the grief as well as what happened in her marriage and its done so flawlessly that it made me remember again how well she can draw upon these deep heavy feelings. Lucas Hedges delivers a breakout performance here as tough Massachusetts kid who is trying to figure out his teenage life without a father. So Patrick has an interesting relationship with his uncle whom he really does need in his life.
Another one of the years best, “Manchester by the Sea” will most certainly be a contender for best picture at the Academy Awards.