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FILM REVIEW: MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (15)

Casey Affleck is well and truly out of his brother’s shadow.

Casey, the younger brother of Ben Affleck, has made some great films throughout his acting career. Movies such as Interstellar, The Assassination of Jesse James and Gone Baby Gone have shown off his incredible talent and yet he generally receives very little recognition in comparison to his sibling.

With Manchester by the Sea winning Casey numerous awards – including Best Actor at The Golden Globes – with rumours of Oscar glory, it’s time for the star to receive some well overdue acclaim from the masses.

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The film’s title is named after the beautiful seaside town near Boston, Massachusetts. Unlike the setting, the drama that unfolds gradually throughout the movie is anything but pleasant to look at.

It tells the story of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), who doesn’t have much going for him. He rents a tiny run-down apartment in the building that he works in as a janitor. He spends his days conversing with the frustrating tenants and spends nights getting into drunken brawls in bars.

His life takes a dramatic U-turn after his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) suddenly passes away. Lee is surprised to discover that he is now the legal guardian of his 16-year-old nephew Patrick (newcomer, Lucas Hedges).

Taking leave from his job, he reluctantly relocates to Manchester-by-the-Sea to care for the boy in the town where he grew up – a place full of painful memories. Lee must not only deal with the death of his brother, but the aftermath of what once happened in his hometown – and the reason he left it in the first place.

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As expected, Casey Affleck shines throughout. From start to finish, those pained eyes are present. His silence says a thousand words and we genuinely feel his pain. Lucas Hedges definitely deserves a mention too. The sharp-tongued and self-absorbed character he plays is the most authentic portrayal of a teenager I’ve seen in quite a while. Many writers would have written him into the script as an unbearable brat, but that’s not the case here. He’s refreshingly relaxed. He’s human.

Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count On Me) did an incredible job of keeping his cards close to his chest, choosing to slowly reveal each one at carefully placed moments. And every card packs more of a punch than the last.

It’s not hard to see why Manchester by the Sea is such a strong contender in the awards season battle – and deservedly so.

Mikey Clarke

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Genre: Drama

Cast: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler & Gretchen Mol

Running Time: 2hrs 17mins

Written & Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan

Watch Manchester by the Sea and much more at Showcase Cinema, Peterborough. Visit www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for the latest up-to-date show times. You can also join the chat on Twitter @showcasecinemas or on Facebook by searching for ‘Showcase Cinemas’.

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