Starring: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Kyle Chandler, CJ Wilson, Michelle Williams, Gretchen Mol, Matthew Broderick, Stephen Henderson, Tate Donovan
Directed By: Kenneth Lonergan
Plot: Lee (Affleck) must deal with the death of his brother (Chandler) while struggling with his own personal demons, and also struggle with raising his nephew (Hedges) now that he’s the legal guardian.
What Works: Lonergan is now two for three. Sure, Margaret was a bit of a mess, but You Can Count On Me was great, and gave us Mark Ruffalo. Manchester By The Sea is great, and is giving us Lucas Hedges. The real triumph here is Affleck, who gives another knockout performance. He’s a shoo-in for a nomination, and might win the whole thing. It’s like watching an actual person, and not a performance. It’s not a boisterous performance, but mostly internalized instead. He carries the entire film on his shoulders. The rest of the cast is great. It’s possible we’ve overpraised Williams’ performance a bit too much. I think she did a good job, but she’s had bigger and better roles. She’s very supporting here, and only has one or two impactful scenes. She brings as much to the table as Hedges, Chandler, Mol, and the not discussed CJ Wilson, who actually does a great job in the best friend role. He’s not a known quantity, but he should be after this. This is Affleck’s torch to carry, but he has a great support system behind him. The screenplay is terrific, the score was great, and the cinematography was solid.
What Doesn’t Work: I struggled with the A or A- solely based on that this film did hit a wall with me in terms of runtime. I did feel that 2:17 was a bit long, and it could have been trimmed a bit.
Final Word: But I still really enjoyed this film. There’s so much to like about it. It’s so real life. Compelling characters created by fantastic actors. If you’re collecting Oscar films, this is a definite must see. It’ll probably sweep 7-9 nominations.
Final Grade: A