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Manchester-by-the-Sea – Director, Kenneth Lonergan

January 25, 2017

manchester

This is maybe the best movie I have seen in a very long time. My favourite movie of all time is Lawrence of Arabia which is something I can watch over and over again but while Manchester-by-the-Sea is now up there with my top 10 I will not. It is far too powerful and draws you in very personally. I went to see this with a full house at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Very briefly it is the story of a man played by Casey Affleck who is a handyman for a sort of marginal landlord in Boston when we meet him. He has a brother who is a single dad and a nephew in the picturesque town of Manchester. As the film opens he receives news that his brother has passed away and there is a will and the 16-year-old nephew needs support.  Among the challenges left by his brother is the request for Casey Affleck to be his nephew’s guardian.  Already it is complicated but as the film unwinds it becomes even more and more complex. The story is totally engaging and so real that I think the audience all find someone to identify with and enter into their emotional struggles. The film does not end sadly or unresolved but rather you know the characters will all carry on but you have had a chance to gain a glimpse into them and their lives deeply and personally. Lonergan uses both humour and pathos to make his story come alive.  It is this that leaves the audience sitting quietly and reflectively.  I won’t say any more or the film would be spoiled. Enough to say that at my viewing, when the final credits ran, literally no one in the audience moved or said anything for what seemed like several minutes. We were all just stunned by the power of the film, the acting and the story. Casey Affleck turns in a performance that must win him an Oscar. He has already won several best actor awards for this role including a Golden Globe and is nominated for a BAFTA award as well. Having seen all the other contenders, I would be amazed if he does not win the Oscar. I recommend this film without reservation and just note that you will not be entertained so much as enter a complex and deeply emotional world that will not devastate but nonetheless will draw out a strong emotional response. Be prepared.  Kleenex for some is recommended.

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