MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Kenneth Lonergan is a master of writing real people, resplendent in their absurdity, staggering in their endurance of grief, clumsy in their nature. The most devastating losses in one’s life can be followed by a hospital gurney folding awkwardly; grief may be triggered by frozen dinners cascading out of a freezer. It’s these huge and small moments, the organic blend of tragedy and humour that make Manchester By The Sea so constantly funny and ultimately devastating. Casey Affleck stars as Lee, a taciturn janitor who returns to his hometown after the death of his brother (Kyle Chandler).
Lee has been appointed guardian of his teenage son Patrick (Lucas Hedges), but Lee’s horror at the prospect indicates a past trauma – which, when revealed, is almost unbearably heartbreaking. The emergence of allegations of sexual harassment against Affleck may understandably affect some viewers’ enjoyment, but the supporting cast – including a masterful Michelle Williams – do offer rewards aplenty. And with graceful flashbacks, wonderfully real cinematography and a powerful score, Lonergan’s tale of small life is a masterpiece.