For years Casey Affleck didn’t get as much attention as his brother Ben. Unfairly though, because in various roles he proved that he is an actor worth watching (just this of his role in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford). With this movie his talent was rewarded, as he received the Oscar for best male performance. Is it just him who is good, or is this movie top-notch as well?
Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts is the town where Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) grew up, together with his brother. He moved away to Boston and works there as a handyman. Besides his work he doesn’t seem to do much and most of the interaction with others is often hostile or aggressive. When he receives an unexpected phone call he rushes back to his home town, where he gets the new that his brother has passed away. It is up to him to tell his 16-year-old nephew the news and take care of him, even though he really doesn’t want to do that.
The thing which this movie really does well is making it a mystery to the viewer why Lee’s life looks the way it does and why he is hesitant to return to Manchester by the Sea. Affleck portrays a man who struggles with something but keeps that all internally and at times explodes. A man of few words, but whose eyes tell much more than what comes out of his mouth. He is confronted with events from his past and in the present he has to deal with that while also taking care of a young man who has lost his father. Director Kenneth Lonergan shows this all in a fantastic way and cleverly switches between past and present, slowly revealing the bigger picture. It make this a very emotional movie which shouldn’t be missed and which probably will end up in a lot of top 10 lists in the Netherlands (the movie came out this year over here) at the end of the year.