‘Manchester by the Sea” Benefits from Strong Performances


Haddon Shively

“Manchester by the Sea” written by Kenneth Lonergen and starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler and Lucas Hedges is a sullen tragedy of a grief-stricken man named Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) who must take care of his teenage nephew after the death of his father, while also having deal with the memories associated with returning to his hometown in which he is revered for his past mistakes that have haunted him to this very day.  

Affleck was able to masterfully carry out the overlying themes of depression, guilt, responsibility and grief as Lee Chandler, giving one of the most compelling, true-to-life, human performances in the last decade. He described his process of mentally preparing himself for the role, saying, “At the end of every day I would go home and prepare the next day’s work and think about the appropriate emotion and attitude to bring to set. There were a lot of heavy scenes in this movie.” As the story progresses, you are able to see the psychological toll that the loss of his wife, kids and his brother, and now the responsibility of being the legal guardian of his nephew, has taken on him.  

We, however, cannot forget to mention the performances of Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges as Randi and Patrick Chandler respectively. The raw emotion Williams shows in her interactions with her ex-husband after their divorce whenever he finally returns home, and the revere Patrick shows to the man he used to look up to and his eventual change of heart grips at the heart strings of even the most stoic of movie goers.   

The strong performances given by its core cast are the catalyst for the overall critical acclaim of “Manchester by the Sea” as it emotionally tells the story of loss that appears more authentic than in the average drama. The movie’s critical acclaim is well-deserved, as it is a story so masterfully told and beautifully performed and is a must-see for those looking for a piece of cinema to truly move them.