Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol, Lucas Hedges
Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan
Written by: Kenneth Lonergan
Rating: R Running Time: 2 hr. 17 min
Manchester by the Sea explores loss and guilt in a very real way. Not movie ‘reel’, but real real. This film isn’t interested in giving its characters any life affirming victories, or try to convince you that complex emotional problems can be solved with a well scripted speech set to a rousing score. Pain hurts, loss hurts, and sometimes it’s just something you have to find a way to live with.
Casey Affleck, in a superb performance, plays Lee Chandler, an apartment complex janitor forced back to his home town after his older brother dies. As the story unfolds, we jump back and forth within Lee’s timeline as we learn why he moved away, and why he’s become closed off to the point of being socially inept and even aggressive.
This is a slow-moving, but thoughtful take on a family and a man broken by tragedy. It doesn’t offer up any solutions, and the film’s conclusions are sobering and honest. It just is what it is, and for anyone who has lived with a bad decision, I dare say this film will be very relatable. Manchester’s power lies in its subtle storytelling. This doesn’t resort to ‘Hollywood’ overblown histrionics to push your buttons. It relies solely on Kenneth Lonergan’s excellent script, and the impeccable performances from the cast.
This isn’t the ‘feel good’ movie of the year. Expect a serious and sobering examination of guilt and loss, but with some genuinely decent moments of humor. If you appreciate good acting, this is a must see for the performances from Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges.
Best Moment: << spoiler! >>
The most powerful moment in the movie for me was when Lee admits his situation is unwinnable. He simply says, “I can’t beat this.”