Cinematic Releases: Manchester By The Sea (2016) - Reviewed

Loss is an integral part of the human condition, with the profound sadness that accompanies it, and the diverse way in which we react to forming an uncomfortable fraternity that unites us. Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea intimately understands these truths, using a phenomenal character study to explore the depths of bereavement in an excruciatingly realistic experience.

Lonergan's conservative approach with his script is immediately apparent, parsing out dollops of information and relying on the extreme talent under his command to overwhelm with restrained turbulence.Pictures of the departed are never fully revealed and yet constantly in the focus. Tragic conversations are shown as they occur, but the viewer is always on the outside, mirroring Casey Affleck's heartbroken loner.His performance defies pretension, leaving every part of his wounded psyche exposed and dangerous.This is a character that is lived in and familiar, using a minimum amount of words to express himself, constantly submitting to the Rubicon of desolation to which he has transgressed. Healing and forgiveness are not vacuous milestones, they are imperfect and organic, and Affleck's intense comprehension of this yields a masterwork performance.

Michelle Williams supports as Affleck's ex-wife.The film's somber climax involves an exchange between the two that destroys the pre-constructed emotional firewall with beautiful, confused incendiaries that obliterate the film's quiet boundaries and delves into the heart of familial disaster.The outright refusal of resolution is what is so remarkable, loyally displaying the reality of our messy existence.Lucas Hedges rounds out the cast as Affleck's inconvenient ward, delivering a breakout turn as teenager who grappling with adulthood in the wake of unimaginable tragedy, whose ultimate self discovery is one of the film's most overlooked attributes.

Jody Lee Jipes's cinematography has a fluid quality that washes everything with deep blues and warm browns, capturing the New England coast with crisp shots that frame the heartbeats within. The past narrative is spliced betwixt by Benjamin Zidel's solid editing, with boisterous lighting and subtle makeup and hair effects seamlessly capturing the characters at various times within the narrative. Lesley's Barber's score is the weakness, underpinning the drama with unnecessary flourishes that would easily detract from the happenings were it not for Affleck's brooding gravity.

In theaters now, Manchester by the Sea is an awards heavy hitter that eschews art house accouterments and glacially treads into familiar territory.The undeniable attraction of Affleck's blistering presence catapults the common place happenings into a strangely comfortable environment, displaying everything on a stage of woeful endurance.If you’re interested in an unflinching examination of loss and redemption, you will be immensely satisfied with this film.

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-Kyle Jonathan