“Manchester by the Sea”: cinematic authenticity at its finest

Lonergan’s raw and gripping drama “Manchester by the Sea” presents raw humanity.



Kyle Kohner, Writer

Kevin Spacey once said about authentic acting: “We gotta be willing to let it hurt. You know, all this notion that acting is ‘yeah it’s pretend’ and yes we enjoy it and yeah we can have a good time with it. But if you wanna land, you wanna make an impact, you want those [obscenity] to remember you. Then you have to let it hurt sometimes. You gotta get there because that’s all an audience ever wants. Is for you to open up your chest and show them that you have a [obscenity] heart. That’s all we want. A heart. A human being. Not an affectation.”

A profoundly gripping performance

Some of the best films of 2016 left audiences drenched in tears. “Moonlight’sheavy social commentary provided the film its notoriety while “A Light Between Oceans” delivered audiences a dilemma that many mothers have unfortunately resonated with. Kenneth Lonergan’s debut presents its heart wrench by means of sheer reality through portrayal of life as life itself. ”Manchester by the Sea” does not leave audiences submerged in gloom, containing enough light-hearted moments for impeccable realism.

The Academy must start handing the Best Actor award to Casey Affleck, who plays Lee Chandler, an uncle who hesitantly becomes anointed as the guardian of the son of his deceased brother, played by Kyle Chandler. Affleck’s restrained but profoundly gripping performance flourishes as one of the best of this year. His acting success hinges on his competency to make his characters’ muted and halcyon moments speak as loud as Shakespearean monologues.

A portrayal of cinematic authenticity

Lee’s character does not translate likeably at first, specifically in the first act of the film. Nonetheless, Lonergan’s exceptional storytelling peels away layers of the inner workings of Lee’s tortured self through flashbacks, incubating love and pity for Affleck’s character. The death of his brother alongside numerous instances of past emotional trauma contribute to Lee’s pain, cultivating the breathtaking buttress of “Manchester by the Sea.”

Akin to his two previous films “Margaret” and “You Can Count on Me,” Lonergan fastidiously conveys dramatic action through ordinary life — the peculiarities of humanity often brushed aside by more inept filmmakers for lack of vigor. Lonergan provides the viewer the true portrayal of cinematic authenticity by highlighting the beauty in life’s mundane majority. Whether through casual conversation or distasteful jokes in the midst of tragedy, Lonergan continues to paint the picture of genuine liveliness with “Manchester by the Sea.”

Poignant essence

The poignant essence of Lonergan’s characters has been a strong point in his work throughout his career. In this instance, a man who seems closed off from the world and its generosity evolves into the perfect embodiment of the imperfect human condition, which in turn furthers Lonergan’s affinity for the authentic — a rarity in filmmaking, especially in 2016.

“Manchester by the Sea” will stand as a cornerstone in storytelling in 2016 and cinematic history. This film proves its worth as an invigorating exegesis on grief, remembering that humans fail to cease making disparaging comments and senseless jokes in the midst of life’s dreadful moments. Life’s satirical nature makes its somber moments more raw and stirring, and Lonergan’s masterpiece portrays that beautifully.

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