Lee (Casey Affleck) is a plumber and overall handyman for multiple tenants in apartment buildings. It is clear his daily routine is somewhat laid back and casual as he fixes things on site and deals with the stressed (and frustrating) customers. People complain, talk disrespectfully to him and are disappointed with Lee’s responses and the work that he does. We also see him get in trouble as one tenant decides to swear at him and he responds in the same tone and manner. Lee lives in a very small room located in one of the buildings he works on for a living and wrestled with his past.
Lee’s life changes when he receives a phone call telling him the sad news of his older brother passing away. His brother’s final will and testament is announced and Lee is made legal guardian to his brother’s son, ‘Patrick’ (played by Lucas Hedges) who is a teenager.
The film is heavily focused on the relationship of Lee and Patrick Having such a distance between each other (they hardly know each other when Patrick moves in) and learning to work together was fantastic to see, in particular from Casey Affleck.
While this film is indeed a drama, I couldn’t help finding myself laughing at certain key moments of awkwardness as Lee learns more about his nephew and vice versa. The film provides excellent storytelling and never feels rushed. Even the odd flashback deepens the characters who only get stronger as the film goes progresses.
The biggest thumbs up for this film goes to Casey Affleck. To be very honest, this is by far the best film I have ever seen this actor in. His acting was amazing and something new. This is an actor who isn’t just delivering lines but paying attention to the main character’s body language (the way he stands, the way he holds his hands, moves his eyes etc) and even the timing of his line delivery was always spot on. Casey Affleck is giving everything to this role. While last week La La Land was my pick for best film of the year, I feel Casey Affleck without a doubt would be my pick for a Best Actor award just for this film alone. Outstanding.
Michelle Williams also provides a strong supporting role. Director Kenneth Lonergan is a new director for me but I promise this will not be the last we see of him. The film is shot basically but uses stunning framing.
Manchester By The Sea is a drama that I strongly suggest you do not miss. It includes some of the greatest acting for a lead role I ever seen in what feels like a long time. The film is simple but it’s also hard to predict each step.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden