TIFF 2016 Review: Manchester by the Sea: A Realistic Film about Loss
Manchester by the Sea is probably one of the most talked about films to come out of Sundance this year. The film is about loss and devastation and the struggles to move on and face the world, even as new challenges and loss happen. Lee (Casey Affleck), a distant and isolated man, is thrown into his nephew Patrick’s (Lucas Hedges) life when his brother dies suddenly. Still coping with his own loss years before, Lee must now attempt to help his teenage nephew navigate this new world without his father.
Manchester by the Sea could have easily become an overly artsy film with too much imagery and emotional music, but it doesn’t.The music in the film could’ve been very distracting and come off as overly artsy, but instead is used very skillfully to add a level of reflection and peace to the film. Combined with moments of silence, it creates a wonderful atmosphere for a truly poignant film. Accented with genuine, sarcastic and realistic humor that hits every note. Even at a really poignant point in the film where Patrick is upset about his father being kept in a freezer when he drops frozen chicken, and Lee responds with, “if you’re going to freak out every time you see a frozen chicken, I think we need to go to the hospital.” Spot on and perfectly delivered, it really took a powerful moment and made it even more human. Casey Affleck is astounding as Lee. Some of the most powerful content comes from Casey and his emotional performances and even the silent moments where it is just him and the camera. He is heartbreaking and dangerously human, to the point where it’s all too close to the emotions you’ve felt at one point.
Casey Affleck is astounding as Lee. Some of the most powerful content comes from Casey and his emotional performances and even the silent moments where it is just him and the camera. He is heartbreaking and dangerously human, to the point where it’s all too close to the emotions you’ve felt at one point. Lucas Hedges as Patrick is great. He is a relative newcomer and gives a powerhouse performance to match that of Affleck. The combination of those two on screen is pure magic.
The film has quite a few flashbacks, which can be over the top in some movies, but handled so well in this. It is incredibly beautiful. They are purposefully placed and add more depth to the film and the characters.
While the ending wasn’t as overly triumphant as I would have wanted, it stuck to its guns and gave us an ending very grounded in the reality the film has created. It took the more realistic, more human route which in itself is wonderful. Manchester by the Sea is a triumph in filmmaking and a sure Oscar contender. Casey Affleck will blow you away in this film.