Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *
Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges, Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol, Kara Hayward, Heather Burns, Anna Katerina Baryschnikov, Tate Donovan, Matthew Broderick, C.J. Wilson, Heather Burns, Erica McDermott.
People, like places, can hold their secrets for as long as possible, the strange ways in which a village ticks can also manifest itself in the way that a person’s mind can become; closed off, unable to deal with a certain moment in the past to the point where it just no longer acknowledges the Time ever existed, till it becomes hearsay, rumour, dismissed gossip in the next generation coming through.
For some though the pain of it all is enough to keep them from looking too deeply ever again into the results of their own actions, they feel the weight too heavily, too emotionally, that even a reminder of where they are from, the fires that burn there, is enough to send them into inner rage and turmoil.
Lee Chandler, portrayed beautifully by Casey Affleck, was once a popular man in his home town of Manchester By The Sea, The New England fishing resort, but who found solace and a kind of peace some distance away in Boston, a put upon and in some cases abused janitor cleaning up other people’s mess and moments of destruction almost as if he is paying penance, a self induced purgatory for a self imagined crime that he seeks punishment for.
What Casey Affleck brings to the film is the twin emotions of the undercurrent of rage and irritable caring for a world that no longer recognises him and who is thrust straight back into a world he turned away from. It is in that twin state which the cinema goer realises they have no idea of how he will retaliate which gives the film its dynamic edge but also its serene acceptance.
Casey Affleck has never been better than in Manchester By The Sea, with all the best will in the world also he has eclipsed anything brought to the screen by his sibling Ben. A film that shows just how cruel life can be and even a second chance at redemption is too much to handle, the pain never goes away and in some towns it can cause too many ghosts to resurface and plague the mind.
A terrific film, worthy of accolades a plenty!
Ian D. Hall