Review: Manchester By The Sea

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Source: Variety

Bruising and heart-breaking, Kenneth Lonergan crafts mood with absolute elegance and perfection, as the film’s powerful emotional ramifications and themes of guilt and self-destruction are balanced with heart-warming humour and relief. The devastating nature of this script recognises the character’s catharsis but never overwhelms the audience in tragedy. This provides breathing room for the viewer to understand the story’s complexity and nuance. Fundamentally, it is an examination of human nature amongst grief and death, and how it is up to us to control how it impacts our lives. This is emphasised by the incredibly effective and stirring flashbacks, which develop Lee magnificently and ground his emotion and perspectives. The third act does slow down considerably and at times loses focus as it attempts to transfer the spotlight to Patrick, who in comparison to Lee, is just simply not relatable enough to carry such a heavy, moving story. I also found that the score, while suitably bold and destructive in some sequences, on other occasions felt comical and too light-hearted to match with the on-screen raw depth. However, ultimately, this film will grasp you and transition you through a range of haunting, mesmerising feelings, all fully embodied by Casey Affleck’s monumental, and likely unforgettable, performance. 4.5/5

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