Jack Bower’s review published on Letterboxd :
Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea is a maelstrom of emotion, empathy, grief, and depression.
Lee Chandler’s grief is overwhelming, so much so that he has become a shell of a man. A man who is brought to life by Casey Affleck, whose performance absolutely deserves all the praise its received. He becomes Lee Chandler. His constantly shifting hands and eyes, his refusal to make eye contact, or any sort of contact, with anyone - it should feel forced and inauthentic. But Affleck turns it into something real, he makes Lee feel like a real person. And Lee’s detached and quiet demeanor is reflected in Lonergan’s direction. The often static camera and shallow depth of field reflect Lee’s lack of movement (in a sense that he hasn’t moved forward from his grief) and lack of care in what’s around him.
It’s a heavy film, with multiple moments that tugs (it’s probably closer to a wrench) at the heartstrings. Thankfully Lonergan understands that grief isn’t just overwhelming sadness, it has it’s ebbs and flows, and he balances out the heavy emotions of the film with hefty dollops of humor. Lee and Patrick’s banter is often hilarious, and Lonergan inserts a cute yet chuckle inducing visual gag of Lee constantly driving across a bridge to take Patrick to and from his numerous social engagements.
-The first musical cue in the first bar scene, something about good times, is absolutely perfect
-The first five minute, with Lee just doing janitor things could have been the whole film and I would have loved it
-At this point I don’t think there is a film in existence that will make me cry:/
-SPOILERS the single smile we get from post tragedy Lee is probably my favorite moment from the film
Highlight of the film: Casey Affleck, without hyperbole, one of the 10 greatest performances I’ve ever seen.