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About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.
Manchester By The Sea is not, incidentally, about the UK city somehow miraculously ending up on the coast. You’re not the only one who was looking forward to seeing how they would pull that one off. No, the film is not about the transportation of a city. Instead it is based in the Manchester of America (bloody imperialism, always confusing everyone – what good ever came of it, eh?), and centres around Lee, a man with a troubled past, and his brother’s son now left in his possession since his brother passed away.
All jokes aside – the opening tone of this article really does serve as a kind of antithesis to the movie itself – this is a deeply moving film. Kenneth Lonergan, the movie’s director, has managed to capture not only the essence of grief, but also our false conception of the closure that comes after. We have been conditioned, whilst indulging in fairytale endings where loose ends are tied and everyone lives happily ever after, that though we may suffer at one point in our lives it is all okay because time is the greatest healer. Manchester By The Sea, in all intents and purposes, spits in the face in all this falsehood, by showing an insurmountable pain that can only be repressed instead of assuaged. And whilst it deals with the struggle to get over the pain of the past, the film is also a meditation on the lack of male candour. Lee, the protagonist, whilst evidently eaten up with grief, never wants to have a conversation about anything that might penetrate the superficial, a familiar ‘I don’t want to talk about that right now’ and the problem is brushed aside. Except, it’s not. Instead it’s left festering, slowly gnawing away until it bursts forth in the form of a spontaneous bar room fight or the punching of a window. Manchester By The Sea forces its audience to realise the culmination of silence and is thus a call for conversation; to not accept dismissal.
And it’s all so beautifully done. In an interview given whilst promoting the film, Michelle Williams, who plays Lee’s ex-wife, said that ‘fantasy is so rich, and reality is so rich’, and it is the latter to which she does utmost justice. But as praiseworthy as her performance is – and when are Williams’s performances anything other than praiseworthy? – it is outstandingly Casey Affleck playing Lee that steals the show. His ability to express the seemingly inexpressible, to encapsulate dejection and misery being compounded by responsibility is, I say without hesitation, a masterful work of acting.
Manchester By The Sea is a heart wrenching, sombre watch, but one that is a necessity, not just for its brilliant film work and acting, but the conversation it provokes.
Image Credits: Wall Street Journal