Extremely sad and touching. Kenneth Lonnergan‘s masterpiece is a movie that can’t be forgotten. Manchester by the Sea is a soul-stirring drama that will make sure you end up in a pool of tears. It has profound grief written all over it as it moves forward showing frames of a gradual build up that ends up in colossal dolour.
Grief is havocking. So the Manchester by the Sea proves when it swings around a reason so blood curdling that it is hard not to cry. It is a blend of guilt with pang thereafter that doesn’t let you slow down a bit. And you cry, and cry for a loss so horrendous it compels your guts to sing icky songs.
Direction of Manchester by the Sea
One of the best things about the movie is Kenneth Lonnergan’s direction. It is as calm as a good drama flick demands. Poignant and very powerful. It hides its cardinal cause well under the wraps for a good amount of time, building up enough suspense around the mystery man, the protagonist of the tale.
He chooses to go back in time occasionally showing the good days to prepare us for the saddest news our brains could register. His frames run long even if they are memories to give us a proper look into what had once happened.
Casey Affleck’s Acting Prowess
Casey Affleck’s performance is Oscar worthy. He is a great actor who is often overlooked by the gavels. He plays a guy who has accidentally done something horrible and is constantly living with a sad reminder of the tragedy.
Playing Lee wasn’t an easy job. The fact that he is tied up by an incessant struggle where he behaves like a tough guy, silently wishing to wane away inflicting pain by putting himself in harm’s way will make you feel extremely sorry for him.
It was an accident. An accident. It is so hard to make someone understand, the mishap you have to live with is all your own doing. He is in an incredible amount of pain and forever girded by depression. He says no to life, and is just carrying on without a will to live.
I don’t know if anyone could have played Lee Chandler as convincingly as he did.
Plot of Manchester by the Sea (Spoilers)
Lee Chandler portrayed by Casey Affleck is a guy doing menial jobs, who says no to the world, and you are left to wonder why. That’s when you see the movie making time jumps occasionally. It travels back and forth in its timeline to show you a glimpse of the before and the after.
It is only when his brother Joe Chandler portrayed by Kyle Chandler (yes he’s the real Chandler) dies that he decides to pay him a visit. Even there we are forced to believe Lee is an emotionally absent guy, who doesn’t shed a tear for the loss of a loved one.
With Joe’s death, he is supposed to look after his son Patrick played by Lucas Hedges. The latter is a teen still trying to figure out life. He seems to take the death of his old man lightly because it didn’t seem to affect him either. Both Joe and Patrick appear to be somehow on the same pedestals of human emotions wherein distance seems to have created what looks like reckless indifference.
We delve a little deeper as they carry on their regular chores, inadvertently circling his grave with what comes as an aftermath of someone’s death. It is the mundane part that deals with funerals, the will, the entire setup that juxtaposes his thoughts against his past.
The Tragic Accident
In a place that Lee had forever dreaded to go back to, we find him unknowingly winding up. We are introduced to his enormous pang, the reason for a screwed up life, and why he wishes to stay miles away from Manchester. He had accidentally set his house on fire killing his three young children. It is hard not to empathize with it. The accident so despicable that could leave anyone shuddering for years. So it happens with Lee. It sucks out the will to live out of him.
The part that follows him when all charges are dropped against him is one of the most havocking parts of the movie. You find him asking:
to the cops who write him off saying it was just an accident and that it was nothing but a misfortune. His first impulse is to shoot himself when the police vindicates him. But he wishes immense punitive measures to be taken against him. To live with that pain is to be completely dead inside. And given the angst surrounding his tragedy anyone would want a quick escape.
With a downward tumble into the world of depression after a failed attempt at suicide, he has moved out of the city, out of his marriage and everything that remotely connected him to any memory. He is in constant pain, and wishes others to inflict more on him. A state of mind you can relate so much too. Deliberately asking for bludgeons to death.
Towards the end we find Randi Chandler his ex-wife played by Michelle Williams trying her level best to talk to Lee. It is another one of those devastating moments in the movie that puts drama back in action. Watch out for that!
“There’s nothing left. There’s nothing there, you don’t understand.”
You can order Manchester by the Sea here:
Lucas Hedges as an actor
At the same time Lucas Hedges doesn’t make you overlook him either. He plays that quintessential teen who couldn’t care less about what goes on in the family. But then again, he never let things percolate into him, and once it does, he breaks too. He has his own way of remembering, and putting sense into the loss. Like keeping the cadaver into a freezer bothered him the most. He is naive apparently yet brimming with emotions when he actually stops to think about it.
“Something’s wrong with me. I don’t know! I feel really weird! I am having like a panic attack or something.”
The Final Verdict
The aptly named Manchester by the Sea is a movie that should not be missed for the world. If you are not a fan of drama, then there’s a chance that you might not like it owing to its slow pace. Au contraire, if you are, you are going to absolutely love it. Do we hear Oscar bells for Casey and the movie?
You can check out the trailer of Manchester by the Sea here: