Manchester by the Sea ★★★★½

Manchester by the Sea starts out unassuming enough. Casey Affleck's character, Lee Chandler is a janitor living in a one room basement apartment and stuck in a pattern of alcohol and misery. We can tell right off the bat that he is a broken man but we don't know why. This all begins to change once he receives a phone call that sets the main story in motion.

What follows is a deeply heartfelt, intimate story that reveals its emotional layers in a thoughtful and articulate manner. The film uses an interweaving flashback structure to fill in the back story of the characters in remarkable ways. There's a particular sequence about halfway through that will leave you devastated. And was one of the many moments of overwhelming emotion throughout the film.

It's not very common for me to become moved to tears while watching films. This isn't to say that I don't become emotional when the moment is right, but I am usually able to move past it without showing any of my feelings externally. That did not happen here. I straight up cried at least three times during this film. And this isn't to suggest that it was miserable to watch based on the harrowing events unfolding, but more of an incredible, deeply transformative experience.

The performances are absolutely stunning in this film. I would be hard pressed to name a better acted film released this year. Every nuanced line of dialogue rings true as delivered by this stellar cast of actors. I seriously can't recommend this film enough. It's been on my mind since I walked out of the theater and I don't see it leaving my thoughts anytime soon.

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