Manchester by the Sea is THE talked about film of this award season.  It stars Casey Affleck and its been winning a bucket load of statues and accolades including six Academy Award nominations, and it’s made nearly 40 million dollars at the box-office.

The story focuses on Lee (Affleck)—a grief -stricken janitor, who returns to his hometown of Manchester to bury his brother and take custody of his teen nephew.  But Lee is a reluctant guardian—and it’s all because of his past— Manchester has left a dark mark on his life.

The film is beautifully shot and moves at a glacier pace.  Grief and unhappiness permeate every inch of Affleck’s performance and it’s so low key that at times it feels like watching a documentary.  Yes Casey Affleck gives a stellar performance, however it takes so long to get to the turning point in the film—(that moment when you understand Affleck’s character)—that I started to lose interest. The second half of the film picked up steam.

Although well acted by Michelle Williams who plays Lee’s ex-wife and Lucas Hedges—(as the nephew—he is outstanding)—this nice little film is good, not great. And it’s somewhat reminiscent of a mid afternoon Lifetime movie.  It also stars the handsome Kyle Chandler.

Kenneth Lonergran (Gangs of N.Y. & You Can Count on Me) wrote and directed and producer credits include actors Matt Damon and John Krasinski (who created the story and wanted to portray Lee.)

Side note:  if you’re a fan of nepotism—there’s a boat- load of nephews and ‘kids of’ in this film—like Anna Baryshnikov—daughter of that dancer guy—and yes she’s very good.

Good acting, fair movie, get ready to be depressed.  Have wine afterwards—or better yet—order a scotch and soda.

    Lisa DiGiovine

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