From the moment I became aware of “Manchester by the Sea” I wasn’t sure that I wanted to see it. Now, albeit belatedly, I have. As it turns out, I did.
I don’t know what I may add to the avalanche of accolades already rightfully bestowed upon this brilliant production, in part by way of the Academy Award earned by Writer/Director Kenneth Lonergan for Best Screenplay and the quiet yet deeply moving Oscar-capturing performance from Casey Affleck. Except perhaps to say that this is one of the best overall movies I have ever seen. And I have seen my fair share of flicks, good, bad and occupying various spaces in betwixt.
Let’s go deeper into Affleck’s stunning turn. True he says by far the least of every major character here-even several of the minor ones. And yet his severely emotionally damaged character of Lee Chandler speaks volumes through his eyes and physical demeanour in every scene he is in and he is in practically all of them in “Manchester”. On face, this may seem to be not all that challenging for an actor.
To the contrary, it is close to impossible to inhabit and personify a man who has been so consumedly devastated in the wake of unbearable tragedy as Chandler has and still somehow find the will, lo, the want-to, to carry on even one more damn day with the unrelenting pain and guilt he harbours within. Affleck succeeds to the point of perfection with this profoundly daunting and demanding task at once breaking our hearts while at the same time inspiring us to root for at least a partial spiritual resurrection for him.
At various turns heart-piercingly devastating, genuinely funny and ultimately hopeful, Lonergan has crafted a near perfect story and film that, even at over two hours, I never wanted to end.
And trust me-it has been a long while since I’ve felt that way at the sight of the closing credits.