Saturday 9.45pm – 12.05am, BBC2
While it may be not the most obvious film choice to a British audience, the success and critical acclaim of Manchester By The Sea cannot be underestimated. The film won two awards (Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay) at the 89th Academy Awards and was also nominated in four other categories. This American made drama film presents us with a profound grief in which it is impossible or extremely difficult to recover.
Boston based janitor Lee (Casey Affleck) is shocked to learn that after his older brother Joe’s (Kyle Chandler) death following a cardiac arrest, he is to be sole guardian of his teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Reluctantly returning to Manchester-by-the-sea, the village in which Joe and Lee’s working class family have lives for generations, Lee is forced to face his dark and depressing past, one that separated him from his wife Randi (Michelle Williams), and his ancestral home where he was born and raised. Directed by Kenneth Longeron, a very successful and underestimated director of intimate dramas and two previous films – You Can Count on Me and Margaret, the film is full of tragedy yet has snippets of comedy. Longeron is an expert in bringing out the best in fledgling actors.
The film explores the complex issues Lee has in his relationship with his nephew, flashbacks
appear in the film which highlight the deep worries and personal trauma he finds in looking after a child, all linked back to his grief (no spoilers here – you’ll have to watch the film!). It does also show Lee’s desperation to do the right thing, he is insistent on telling Patrick about his father’s death and only seeks to do what is best for his nephew.
Casey Affleck’s performance is outstanding and it is clear to see why he won not only the Academy Award but also received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and the British Academy Film Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. His moving depiction of a broken man will draw empathy, but equally attract the right criticism for Lee’s past.
An excellent film which reminds us to have humility and that not every situation can be resolved.
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