pcdevitt’s review published on Letterboxd :
My second viewing at TIFF was all the way in the back of a packed theater with little to no space to get to fully get in the mindset needed to become invested within the tale; every aspect of that theatrical experience lacked the intense intimacy that poured down upon me during first screening. Sitting close up at the theater not only to allows me to understand the composition of the film and its use of aspect ratio to a much greater extent, but there's also a more intimate connection between the viewer and screen without anyone around you disrupting the experience. And with a film as special and emotionally impactful as Manchester, it's really difficult to become as connected with the picture with those around you in a tight space wiggling around and checking their smart watch every five minutes.
I really can't think of a filmmaker working today that's able to present the same level of emotional weight from everything from the most grandiose travesties to the tiniest of gestures like the way Kenneth Lonergan is able to find a common ground between. There's something to be said about the way he avoids laying all of his cards out on the table from the get-go. As the structural architect that he is, Lonergan gently sets the stage with hints of information leading onto his characters' past. Utilizing every ounce of the severe transitions between past and present, the flashbacks slowly begin to reveal the full picture of the characters' backstories that Lonergan has been building up to. During what's certainly the most overwhelming delivery of information in the entire narrative, the film cuts back between Affleck's Lee Chandler processing the demanding task that's he been left to handle juxtaposed against this devastating unraveling of events. One wouldn't think that a sequence that cuts back and forth to such great of an extent as Lonergan does here would manage to create as shattering of a cinematic experience as it winds up being, but with the flawless precision of Jennifer Lame's editing, there's nothing in a film from this year that comes to being merely as close of traumatic experience as what unfolds in Manchester By the Sea.