So I watched the already widely acclaimed Manchester by the Sea at the weekend. In a world that is saturated with grimness, I’d been slightly hesitant about seeing something else that might add to the emotional trauma of the past six months or so. But I’m glad I did.
Manchester by the Sea tells the story of Lee (Casey Affleck), who initially looks like a random loner in a dead-end job, who has to return to his hometown to deal with a family crisis. The film gradually sets out Lee’s story in a series of flashbacks, which go a long way towards explaining his limited, awkward and sometimes violent social interactions. Grief, in all its myriad forms, is at the centre of this film, but it is so understated that its emotional rawness is just enough to keep you engaged rather than traumatised. And in amongst all the ripples of mundane activity that a death necessitates there are the occasional moments of humour and humanity, which make things just a little bit easier (if only for the viewer).
The excellent performances in this film are matched by the script and cinematography, and I can completely see why it’s been praised to the rafters.