The Film (5/5)
Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is a janitor working and living in a series of apartment buildings just outside of Boston, MA., when the news hits of his older brother Joe's expected, but still untimely death. Lee finds himself having to depart his job without notice, to put his brothers affairs in orders, and organize the funeral in his seaside hometown of Manchester an hour and a half away from city. He soon finds out that without notifying him, Joe made Lee the guardian of his 16 year old son Patrick (Lucas Hedges). An angst ridden teenager (is there any other kind?), who now has to come to terms with the death and delayed burial of his Father, and the possibility that his uncle will take him away from the small town life he knows and loves. At the same time Lee being back in Manchester is forced to confront the memories of the life he left behind including the deaths of his 3 children, and his former wife Randi (Michelle Williams) who never forgave him for their passing.
It is not often a film comes out around the award season that I think deserves everything that is has coming to it, Manchester by the Sea is the rare film that I think deserves the accolades. For while it certainly does rely on certain emotional notes that might have certain viewers lash out at the film as Oscar-Bait. The film is powerful enough, through it's style, and performances to create a really strong cinematic experience, and is one of the best indie dramas to come out in recent memory.
Manchester by the Sea is the third film by director Kenneth Lonergan after 2011's Margaret, and 2000's You Can Count On Me. This is a guy that really doesn't get films out enough, but when he does he really makes them count. He manages to balance the light elements of comedy with tragedy to create a powerful drama that never feels too heavy, and is uniquely entertaining and always watch-able. This, of course, comes from the material, but, also, the dual strong performances from Affleck and Hedges who play wonderfully off of each other.
The film as strong as the material is, however, is grounded by its central performances. Accolades of course have to go to Casey Afflect as Lee, and Lucas Hedges as Patrick. But we also get more powerful turns such as Kyle Chandler as Joe and Michelle Williams as Randi. Both are in the film for a scant few minutes (though Michelle Williams makes the cover), but both have strong performances especially Williams whose scenes might be the most powerful and striking in the film.
Lionsgate presents Manchester by the Sea in a splendid 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the films OAR. The Blu-ray transfer is nicely detailed, and reproduces the natural color scheme of the film effectively. Black levels are nice and deep, and I could find nothing to complain about.
Manchester by the Sea is presented by LG with a DTS-HD 5.1 track in English. Everything here sound great, totally audible with dialogue and score coming through clearly. I did not detect any issues.
Deleted scenes, an interview with the director, and a making of.
Manchester by the Sea is absolutely one of the year's best original dramas. The Blu-ray looks and sounds amazing, and has a nice slate of extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.