A lot of the tone is set through the cinematography. Jody Lee Lipes (Trainwreck) guides us towards the ocean as we are brought back to the rolling waves between scenes. We constantly see Casey Affleck (Good Will Hunting) driving around the region as he tries to correct his life mistakes. However, we are often disconnected from the character as we view him from the outside of the car window. As human beings, we love to know everything about everyone else. We snoop around looking for the hottest new rumors and gossip. Manchester By The Sea reminds us that we never really know somebody else from their first appearance. Struggle and hardship often create new personalities. Someone who may seem like the grumpiest person on Earth might have been the happiest person on Earth before he or she lost something dear to them. This idea creates the perfect pathos in Manchester By The Sea.
Based on early buzz, it goes without saying that this film will be in the runnings for some Oscar nominations. It also goes without saying that Casey Affleck deserves a nomination for his portrayal of Lee Chandler. Similarly to his brother, Affleck has perfected the somber facial expression. His facial expressions guide this film into the tone that it strives for. Lucas Hedges (Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel) co-stars as a teen dealing with the loss of his father. Hedges is an actor that we should remember and look out for in future films. Of course, the rest of the cast is well-rounded with bold performances by Michelle Williams (Shutter Island), Kyle Chandler (The Wolf of Wall Street), C.J. Wilson (The Intern), and many more.
The Bottom Line: Manchester By The Sea will drive you to tears, but still leave room for satisfaction by the end of its runtime.