Forever Manchester is a short drama dealing with the recent, real-life tragedy of a bombing at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena, focusing on a fictional family and their personal ordeal within the situation.
The film keeps it short and straight to the point, honing in on two parents, and how they act upon finding out about the bombing of the concert, which their teenage daughter is attending.
Tackling real life tragedies and also stories of grief and loss, in general, are both difficult things to do, or at least to do right, but Forever Manchester attempts both and is pretty much successful in doing so. The film is superbly performed, and kudos must be given to the cast and the director for getting such strong performances on screen. Whilst this film succeeds, the primary factor that so often disappoints when it comes to drama on film is the acting itself, often teetering on the line between melodramatic and outright ridiculous. It’s a very easy trap to fall into the realm of amateur acting when handling emotion, but Forever Manchester avoids this by downplaying a lot of the character’s mannerisms. There’s still a lot of screaming and shouting, but the slow build to this is nice and helpful.
The fact we get to see the couple having a nice night in together watching TV before they learn of the disaster was a really strong point for me here, and it was effective in that it put the thought in my head as to what it would be like to experience something like that: to go from watching television, to worry that you’ll never see your daughter again. The shift was gradual and well handled, and this is aided by the film’s 10-minute runtime, which prevents anything from teetering on longer than it should or needs to.
Overall, the film, by director Iain Cash, is strong, if not maybe “too soon”, for lack of a better term. The issue at hand is real and relevant and needs to be discussed and looked at with haste. However, the worry is that its immediate relevance may be hard for some to take, but instead of using the real-life incident as an excuse to execute emotion on the cheap, it does attempt to create an important conversation as well. Though I liked the couples’ interaction, I’d have maybe liked for the script to take this “social conversation” a little further – and to add into the ring an opinion or world view on how something like this can happen, and how we, as a race, should be dealing with it.
Having said that, the film is a snapshot of drama and emotion and doesn’t claim to be political or polemical in any way. This doesn’t detract too much and was just a personal opinion of my own expectation of the story.
Conclusively, Forever Manchester is a strong piece of drama that knows the risks of going too far and goes a long way in keeping most things subtle.