Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan’s 2016 film, Manchester By the Sea is a near flawless piece of filmmaking. Lonergan deals with a lot of heavy issues in his film, but he also manages to pack in quite a bit of humour to balance it out. There’s a realism that runs throughout the film, from the dialogue to the performances which never rings false. Hollywood films might be getting bigger and louder, but it’s such a pleasure to watch something as muted like this.
Casey Affleck delivers what might just be one of the great movie performances of all time. He’s in nearly every scene and he carries the full weight of Lonergan’s film on his shoulders. Affleck delivers each line-reading with precision, but he is also just as affecting when he says nothing. He’s nothing short of brilliant. Young Lucas Hedges is excellent as the teenager trying to hold his life together throughout the upheaval in his life. Michelle Williams also gets to get a powerful last act scene which tilts the film towards its emotional and narrative climax.