Manchester by the Sea ★★★★★

I don't know how to handle death very well. Are you supposed to feel overwhelmingly upset because you know you'll miss them, or are you to feel relieved that they're clearly in a better place? Crying isn't acceptable though, because it shows you're weak, or mentally unstable in some way or another. It's easy enough for me to cry outright when present for someone's death, but hearing the news, or even being at funerals just doesn't elicit an emotional response from me. How long should you take before just moving forward? Is simply brushing it aside because you have a life to live of your own a sign of a cold heart, devoid of feelings and emotions? I've never actually cried at a funeral, and some part of me feels guilty for that, like something is psychologically broken inside of me.

Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea is like someone went deep inside the recesses of my emotions and pulled them out for everyone to see. Casey Affleck is perfect as a detached handyman struggling with his personal emotional acceptance. His emotions (or lack thereof) and the way he handles personal interactions with those around him mirrors my own persona in a way that I never thought possible. Lonergan uses perfectly placed flashback sequences to piece together the life of his recently deceased brother, and how their relationship had such an impact on each other's lives. The character development is marvelous, releasing a precious piece of the story at a time to allow the audience to develop a close feeling for these players and their despondent situations.

Manchester by the Sea is the most personally devastating film I've seen this year. If I were actually an emotional being, I don't think I would've made it out of the theater in one piece. Lonergan's supreme drama, cleverly interspersed with genuine moments of humor, formulate a wholly human experience that is unmatched. Casey Affleck gives one of the most subversive performances of the year, delivering a powerhouse personification that tore me apart on the inside. For some reason, I had no expectations from this film (despite hearing nothing but high praise for it), yet Manchester comes out of nowhere as one of my favorite films of the year. It's a masterful character study that weaves its narrative in a tantalizing fashion that will leave you hanging onto every frame between its genuine humor and human desolation, before leaving you emotionally shattered with nothing else to look for.

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