Movie Review: Manchester By the Sea

The Definition of Subtext:
The underlying or implicit meaning, as of a literary work.

It is said that if you want to be an exceptional actor then it is important that nobody ever sees you actually acting. There are no signs of any acting in the new film “Manchester By the Sea”. The dialogue, subtext, actions and reactions to life events by the great actors in this film are as real and believable as any movie I have ever seen. The life events are extreme and very real and demonstrate the delicate balance between a mundane and normal existence and the possibility of unforeseen events that are impossible to conceive of and in some cases even survive. This movie asks the question, “how would you survive if this happened to you? Could you survive?”.

I predict that the screenwriter and director of this movie Kenneth Lonergan will win for the best original screenplay this year at the Oscars because the originality and writing of this screenplay are that good. I have never seen a movie that has more flashbacks that zig and zag into the story and not only explain what is happening and has happened but do this in a more understandable and seamless way. The subtlety and complexity of the plot in several parts of the story are brilliantly left up to the audience to figure out for themselves and in some cases, you are not fully aware that you are in a flashback scene until some subtle dialogue or actor makes an appearance, which was another technique I have not seen before in any other film. There is a dinner scene between a son and his mother who he has not seen in years and her new boyfriend that make it completely obvious that there is no way that the son could ever live with her or her boyfriend. The looks, body language and the trying too hard conversations in this scene which include Gretchen Mol and Matthew Broderick are another example of the brilliant subtext in this film.

The actor Casey Affleck will be nominated for best actor this year, due to his outstanding performance in this movie which was great for its subtlety and his interpretation of this role believing that a person going through hell like that is more abt be in a zombie like state, occasionally lashing out at the world as he attempts to continue living with unbearable, overwhelming guilt and grief. One has to also have great respect for Michelle Williams who with her relatively small part in this movie will also be nominated for best supporting actress. Since her part in Dawsons Creek ended over 10 years ago, Williams has made an ongoing and very impressive decision to only act in small and very high-quality movies, not caring at all for a big financial payoff that she could get with more mainstream films. This decision has made her a very respected actor in Hollywood and she has already been nominated for 3 Oscars and this film will definitely provide her 4th nomination. There is a reunion scene in this movie between Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck that is one of the best acted and most emotional scenes I have ever seen between two actors in any film and in my opinion both Willams and Affleck should be nominated for Oscars for this one scene alone.

Manchester by the sea is brilliant in all aspects and about as real with the subject of loss and grief as any movie I have ever seen. The film will be nominated for best picture this year and might actually win it. I highly recommend this great film.

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