For the past ten years, I have been telling everyone just how great an actor Casey Affleck is. After watching both “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” I instantly became a fan of Affleck. His roles in both films showed a varied and moving portrayal of a man in turmoil. I was initially taken aback by Affleck, because I had no idea he was that good of an actor. He seemed to always be in the shadow of his brother Ben.
Affleck garnered significant buzz for both films and seemed destined for better acting roles. Since then, I have followed his career closely as he acted in some forgettable films and a few good ones. It took a while for Affleck to star in a movie, “Manchester By the Sea,” that showcased his stellar acting chops. With his performance being singled out by critics and Golden Globe win, I feel like a proud father as I watch the attention that he rightly deserves.
“Manchester By the Sea” is about Lee Chandler(Affleck) a janitor living in Boston. He is a quiet and sad man that spends his time drinking and dealing with the many tenants in the apartments he maintains. One day, Lee receives a phone call from a friend telling him that his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has died.
Lee hops into his car and heads out to his hometown Manchester-by-the-sea and deals with the funeral arrangements for his brother and his nephew Patrick, who is now parentless. In his hometown, Lee is confronted by past demons that come rushing forth as he finds out that Joe made him the guardian of Patrick. Lee also comes face to face with his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and struggles with his inner issues.
Casey Affleck always shines when he plays characters that are depressed, tormented or despondent in nature. He did a great job in the film “Lonesome Jim” where he played a depressed writer that is forced to return to his hometown after not attaining any success in New York. In this film, Affleck’s performance as Lee is both heartbreaking and moving. Lee is a man who is consumed by guilt that he can never shake, no matter what he tries to do. He tries to look out for his nephew the same way that Joe looked out for him after tragedy struck his family.
Lee is a man of few words that is quick to get into a fight when feeling angry or threatened. He gets into several brawls that he starts intentionally. He is afraid of the responsibility of watching for his nephew when he can barely take care of himself. He does try, which makes his plight even more captivating.
Director Kenneth Lonergan does a great job of capturing the characters issues and personal pains. He also showcases the tragedy that haunts an idyllic town as Manchester-by-the-sea for Lee and his ex-wife.
This film was one of the best films I saw in 2016 and eagerly await the Academy Awards to see if Casey Affleck will win an Oscar for his performance.