Continuing Oscar Watch 2017, I headed in to see Manchester by the Sea. To be honest, I didn't know a lot about this film prior to going in and I suggest you do the same. So I'm going to try and review the film without giving too much away.
Firstly it IS a long film, 137 minutes, but it never feels long.
Secondly, the film is directed by Kenneth Lonergan. This is the third film he has directed after the superb You Can Count On Me and the very good Margaret. Both of these films have extraordinary performances and Manchester by the Sea is no different.
It is the story of Lee Chandler (played beautifully by Casey Affleck), who is called in as guardian to his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges) when his beloved brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) finally succumbs to a congenital heart problem.
Lee is a bit of a miserable dude, a loner, a bit grumpy. In a series of early flashbacks you see a younger, happier Lee on a boat with his brother and young nephew. The love between them all is obvious.
And this is when you realise (or at least when I realised) that there are two stories happening here.
The supposed main story of Lee and Patrick (now 16) coming to terms with each other, despite a loving relationship. And what has happened to Lee in between these earlier boat flashbacks and the now.
These flashbacks take up the crux of the story and indeed inform the entire film. I won't say any more about the flashbacks, but Lonergan is supreme in getting the most stunning performance from Affleck, who I admit I've never been a fan of.
Every performance is wonderful, especially Michelle Williams as Lee's ex wife and Gretchen Mol as Joe's ex wife. It is a great cast with great acting all round.
The film is shot tenderly, in the bitter winter with harsh grey tones, the water, the snow, and a great soundtrack. All of this adds to the drama. And yet whilst this IS a drama, devastatingly so, there is humour and humanity. The relationship between Lee and Patrick is outstanding to watch. What a great young actor Lucas Hedges is, he reminded me of a young Matt Damon (who was a producer on the film incidentally)
Manchester by the Sea is a must see of the Oscar season, how it will wash up on the day I have no idea, it's a wait and see thing.