We bring you yet another film that was nominated for Best Film at the big three: the Oscars, the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs. Casey Affleck won the Best Actor award at all three and Kenneth Lonergan, who also directed, won the Best Screenplay award at the Oscars and the BAFTAs. Lonergan is in his fifties and has only made three films, his first in 2000, but all have been critically acclaimed and won awards for his screenplays. Manchester by the Sea is his best yet and is a searing exploration of masculine grief. It is not, however, a depressing watch and has a warm-hearted ending.
After the death of his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is shocked to learn that Joe has made him sole guardian of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Taking leave of his job, Lee reluctantly returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea to care for Patrick, a spirited 16-year-old, and is forced to deal with a past that separated him from his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and the community where he was born and raised. Forced into a relationship neither of them expected, Lee and Patrick struggle to adjust to a world without Joe.
Affleck, in what is certainly the most mature performance of his career, reads like an open wound, pain engraved into his face and soul. With minimal screen time, Williams also impressively etches her character, a woman who has tried to stitch back together the fabric of her existence after a life-altering event. One scene, where they encounter each other on the street, speaks volumes as they stammer their way through a broken conversation. Lucas Hedges holds his own in the company of these fine actors. Don’t expect any easy resolutions, though; even with chinks of light, Lonergan leaves you feeling for these wounded souls.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall