Manchester by the Sea is not only a tragedy, but a fantastic insight into the emotion of dealing with grief, family and what is home. Revolving around the life of Lee (Casey Affleck), a Boston janitor who, after the death of his brother, must look after his 16 year old nephew who lives in the neighbouring small town of Manchester by the Sea.

Produced by Matt Damon, the film succeeds because of its actors. Casey Affleck, despite his legal controversies being dug up again due to the films success, is fantastic. His character is haunted by the past, but he buries all deep inside him. It’s a tough emotion to portray, the rage, immense sadness, and frustration by his past and present, all buried underneath a pretence that suggests everything is ok, but Affleck nails it.

Affleck isn’t the only actor worth noting though, a great performance from Lucas Hedges portraying Patrick, (Lee’s nephew) shows us the perfect blend of teenage awkwardness, success, failure, as well as not knowing quite how to feel about his father’s passing. Smaller roles for the fantastic Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler also shine.

The film tells the story of Lee’s tragedy through a non-linear narrative. This leaves you wondering why he’s so against being in Manchester or why his brother has unexpectedly left him his whole estate despite being “just the back up”, until late in the film where flashbacks are telling the haunting past of his own family and the relationship with his brother. The feeling of realism is also pushed throughout the film, no scene seems to happen smoothly, and can be awkward and tense at times, but probably feels more real than any film I’ve seen before.

Overall a emotional and reflective film worthy of its accolades, I’m sure it will grab an Oscar or two.

– Ben Chesters