Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Manchester by the Sea revolves around Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a single janitor who lives Boston in a 1 room apartment. He is a quiet man who shares little with others, and often comes across as harsh and unkind. When Lee hears about his brother’s death to heart failure, he is informed that he is now the legal guardian of his teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Not wanting to commute from his mundane life, Lee struggles with the idea of forming a family again after losing his children in a tragic fire many years ago.
Manchester by the Sea is the type of drama that is destined for award season. It has great acting, tragedy, and plenty of emotional struggles. Casey Affleck steals the show with his great performance of a man trying to live in a world that he no longer wants to be apart of. His relationship with his brother and nephew are some of the aspects that keep him going, as we constantly see flashbacks of his interactions with his nephew and brother, but when his brother dies, he is remembered that people around him die.
It isn’t until about halfway through the movie that we learn why Lee is so unemotional and alone. He once had a life worth living and was happy with his children and wife, but due to an accident, he is left broken. When is nephew re-enters his life, his emotions deep down resurface, but only to him. As the audience, we get to see the flashbacks in his life to a time he was happy and loving, but now, he tries to do anything he can to keep from hurting.
Manchester by the Sea isn’t a movie for entertainment nor is it a movie that will have a lasting impression, but it does offer a story that is subtle and tragic all at the same time. Lee’s nephew Patrick not only loses his father, but remembers what kind of a screw up his mother is. Lee has demons in his closet that he can’t let go of and turns down advances by any woman who wants to create any kind of emotion with him.
My overall impression of this movie is that it offers a lot in terms of emotional analysis but it doesn’t add enough memorable moments to keep me tied to the characters for very long. I hesitate to call this movie “boring” but I never felt that this movie was “moving” or special. I can tell the overall production of the film is quality and the setting and writing create a sense of mourning throughout, but nothing about this movie made me care. I think Casey Affleck does a wonderful job at playing the emotionless lead, however, because this man is deprived of many emotions, so are we! We might be able to see and experience what he is, but we don’t get to “feel” what he is feeling and that made me feel detached. I would have loved to have seen Lee cry, break down, or let go, but he doesn’t. He goes through everyday carrying the weight of his past and hides what his true emotions are, and it is sad.
At the end of the day, Manchester by the Sea is a complex movie about a man who chooses to bury tragedy rather than express feelings and emotions to move past the hardships he has faced. In the scene near the end with his ex-wife, she desperately reaches out to him only for him to say he is sorry before walking away without showing any true connection he once felt for her. This movie is sad and the setting, snow, water, and winter help the audience feel the same sense of sorrow covering Lee’s life. I only hope that Patrick can allow Lee to forgive himself and enjoy life again with another person, especially someone he helped raise from a young boy… just like his daughters. Co-starring Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol, C.J. Wilson, Kara Hayward, and Matthew Broderick.
6/10 Stars – Manchester by the Sea is a drama that takes a look at a man’s life after a tragedy that causes him to become an emotionless loner. It is sad and a tad boring all at the same time as another tragedy affects our main character’s life yet still causes him to remain the same emotionless person he has transformed into.