Manchester by the Sea is probably the most underrated film from this year’s Oscars. It tells the story of Lee Chandler, grief stricken by the death of his brother and struggling with the responsibility of being guardian to his nephew, Patrick. Without revealing any spoilers, there are several reasons why moving back to Manchester is difficult for Lee (played by Casey Affleck), and his grief with both the loss of his brother and previous tragedies shapes the narrative.
Although the film is quite slow, the individual characters make the whole thing utterly captivating. The film also follows a flashback structure, which sounds cheesy but is done so well it honestly feels like you’re experiencing the memories in the same way Lee would be. Casey Affleck was completely deserving of the Best Actor Oscar for this role. His performance was a true testament to the pain that grief and depression can put a person through.
"Casey Affleck was completely deserving of the Best Actor Oscar for this role"
But the smaller roles also made the film for me. Lucas Hedges as Patrick epitomises the selfish attitude of adolescence, to the point where you can hear yourself saying those same words to your own parents. Michelle Williams, who plays Lee’s ex-wife, also steals the show, breaking your heart and fully earns her Best Supporting Actrees nomination with only about 20 minutes of screen time.
It’s not the kind of film I would watch over and over again, simply because it’s just that sad. But that shouldn’t put you off it as a film. It won Best Original Screenplay because it is incredibly written and an honest representation of the pains of being ostracised for that which isn’t necessarily your fault. The plot on the face of it sounds like a cliché, but I can’t say that I’ve seen another film quite like it.
Would highly recommend, perhaps even over many of the more popular films from this year’s Oscars.
More like this: Margaret (2011)