“Manchester by the Sea” asks how do you survive an unimaginable tragedy?? People handle it in different ways and Lee (Casey Affleck) becomes a totally cold, uncaring person who cuts himself off from all those he loves, leaves his hometown, gets a job as a janitor in Boston, drinks a lot of beer and has fights in bars.

The first hour of the film deals with Lee before and after the tragedy, how he was a happy man, father, husband, brother and friend before he became the loner he is now. After his brother, Joe, (Kyle Chandler) dies, he comes home to find out that Joe has appointed Lee the guardian of his 16 year old nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges) who in many ways is a typical teenager but is acting out upon the death of his father. At this point the director/screenwriter, Kenneth Lonergan, tells us what the tragedy was and it is almost to painful for the audience to hear and watch. 

For the next hour and 17 minutes we see how uncle and nephew interact and deal with life, Patrick with humor and sarcasm, Lee without emotions and staying as uninvolved as he can stay. We meet Patrick’s mother Elise (Gretchen Mol) who has been out of his life for years, her new husband Jefferey (Matthew Broderick) Lee’s ex-business partner and friend George (C. J. Wilson) but most important of all Lee’s ex-wife, Randi (Michelle Williams).

While Affleck is getting all the attention in the reviews I was more impressed with 20 year old Lucas Hedges as the 16 year old who can break your heart and a second later having you laugh. Affleck does a strong job especially since most of his scenes have to be done in a monotone, showing no emotion and fighting the pull his nephew on has him as a human being.

Michelle Williams has a very emotional scene, lasting about 5 minutes, with Casey Affleck but as easily as I am moved in a movie’s emotionally scenes, this didn’t move me.

Gretchen Mol is wasted and Matthew Broderick has a very thankless part. The rest of the supporting players including  Patrick’s main girlfriend played by Anna Baryshnikov are all above par.

I love heavy, family, movie dramas but the bottom line is that “Manchester by the Sea” is way too long by 15-20 minutes which doesn’t make for very much tension and though the scenery of Manchester by the Sea is excellent in all the seasons and there is no fault with the acting I don’t recommend it.

After writing this review and before posting it I read some reviews on metacritic.com and rottentomatoes.com which says I am definitely in the minority regarding the film.


Posted December 2, 2016 by greatmartin in FILM REVIEWS, Uncategorized

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