Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler
Release Date: February 21, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
Casey Affleck heads a powerhouse cast in this acclaimed and deeply moving film from award-winning writer-director Kenneth Lonergan. After a solitary Boston janitor (Affleck) unexpectedly becomes the sole guardian of his 16-year-old nephew, he must come to terms with a past that separated him from his wife (Michelle Williams) and his hometown, as uncle and nephew unite for an unforgettable journey of love, community, sacrifice, and hope.
‘Manchester by the Sea’ tells the story of Lee Chandler (Affleck) who has lived a quiet and solitary life for some time as a janitor and handyman in Boston since choosing to leave his home town and the painful memories that accompany it. Upon receiving word of his brother’s untimely passing, Lee is forced to return back home to the small town where he grew up in order to care for his teenage nephew. After arriving back in town, Lee must also confront the painful memories of his past that he has tried to ignore, and the people involved in one way or another while simultaneously attempting to settle his brother’s affairs and handle his teenage son. When he unexpectedly learns that he has been made the sole guardian of his nephew it opens a new barrage of issues to tackle as he must consider what immediately returning to Boston would do to the boy.
Written and directed by talented filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me), he does a fantastic job at the helm of ‘Manchester by the Sea’ guiding his own script along with a constant beauty and heart, earning him two Oscar nominations for both his notable guidance and his screenplay. The film also owes a good share of the credit to the incredibly talented individuals that make up the cast and allow the emotionally powerful story to work quite so well, including Casey Affleck (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine), Kyle Chandler (Super 8), Gretchen Mol (Rounders), Lucas Hedges (Moonrise Kingdom), C.J. Wilson (The Intern), and a number more, nearly all delivering fantastic performances in each of their respective roles, especially Casey Affleck who offers one of his best performances to date, earning him a greatly deserved Oscar nomination for his unforgettable portrayal of the lead.
‘Manchester by the Sea’ is an emotional, beautifully crafted and executed drama that oozes with humanity and passion, delivering a powerful story of love, family and past events that can haunt no matter how hard one may try to escape it. It’s a wonderful story of a man plagued by a life of hardships who is forced to confront them when he must return home to care for his teenage nephew following the untimely death of his brother. There is an ever-present beauty throughout ‘Manchester by the Sea’ and the surroundings play a notable part in the tone, the film often jumping promptly from one moment to the next with a unique editing method that works perfectly to match the story and aura. Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan does a fantastic job guiding the powerful tale along, and his talented guidance is complimented even more by outstanding performances from a stellar cast, particularly the gifted Casey Affleck who delivers a breathtaking performance in the lead role. ‘Manchester by the Sea’ is a remarkable and undeniable human film that will warm your heart, as well as break it, and leave you with a barrage of other emotions rising to the surface along its carefully guided course. Anyone who appreciates a phenomenal drama by a talented filmmaker and featuring a powerhouse cast that is sure to pull you in for an emotional rollercoaster definitely won’t want to miss out on this fantastic film. Any fellow fans of the always impressive Casey Affleck (and Michelle Williams) will also likely want to make a point of giving this one a watch when you have the opportunity to do so.
Overall, ‘Manchester by the Sea’ is a gorgeous, powerful and painfully human tale of one troubled man and those closest to him as he is forced to revisit the misery and conflict of his past and those who were affected by it. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, as well as grin inducing and even quite funny on occasion, it’s a beautiful tale of a man’s personal journey that is guided with obvious passion by talented writer/director Kenneth Lonergan and boosted even further by Casey Affleck’s passionate and resonating performance that earned them both well deserved Oscar nominations for their work. ‘Manchester by the Sea’ definitely earns one of my highest recommendations for anyone who enjoys a powerful and incredibly well made drama that nary misses a beat. This one should easily justify the cost of a rental at the very least for anyone that’s the slightest bit interested in checking it out.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Manchester by the Sea’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole and delivers a sharp, detailed and gorgeous presentation from start to finish without any noticeable faults to be found within. It holds up without issue even during the darkly lit and/or heavily populated sequences, never causing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is splendid high definition video presentation that’s complimented by a more than substantial bitrate and should easily please.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack provides a consistently crisp and clean audio presentation throughout. Not by any means overly aggressive as should come as no surprise, it does nonetheless take advantage of all five available channels on a number of occasions in order to immerse the viewer within the music and to send crowd chatter, ocean and other nature elements and more throughout the various speakers when appropriate. Overall, this is a highly capable 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every way required of it and shouldn’t disappoint.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Manchester by the Sea’ includes a couple of notable extras. Included on the release is an optional second audio track containing ‘A Conversation with Director/Writer Kenneth Lonergan’ playing alongside the film, similar to an Audio Commentary track. We are also treated to a few ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the film (running approximately 6 minutes in length altogether), and an inside look at bringing the film to life with behind the scenes footage and interviews/comments from the cast and crew, plus more in the Featurette ‘Emotional Lives: Making Manchester by the Sea’ (running 16 minutes).
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They additionally will suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
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