An uncle (Casey Affleck) becomes the legal guardian of his nephew (Lucas Hedges) after his father (Kyle Chandler) tragically passes away.
Manchester by the Sea is an emotionally powerful film. The director Kenneth Lonergan brings every emotion out of you in this story. You feel sympathy for the characters, and your heart breaks for them. As the writer and director here, Lonergan really could win the writing and directing Oscar this year. As you peel back the layers of this story, which is told in a very nonlinear way, you learn about Lee (Affleck), and what makes him the way he is. As you begin to peel back those layers, everything changes.
That brings me to the performances. Casey Affleck may have given the performance of the year, and by far his best ever. He’s very introverted, he works a very menial job and lives alone. As the story progresses you see what has happened in his life, and it takes you aback. Truly heart wrenching. You see the love he has for his nephew, but he knows he can’t take care of him, even though he really wants his uncle to be there. There’s no better performance this year than Afflecks. Truly astonishing.
Along with Affleck is Michelle Williams, who also delivers. They share a scene, and it moves you so deeply. The performances will bring tears to your eyes. Lucas Hedges really conveys that heartbreak in losing a parent. He is a teenager so he’s very closed off at first, but he has a moment here that again, will break your heart. Kyle Chandler as always is great in this film for his limited role.
Manchester by the Sea is one of the most real movies you’ll see. The emotion isn’t held back, there’s no contrived moments. Everything feels real. That’s the highest praise you could give the film. It feels genuine, and Casey Affleck delivers the performance of a life time.