HTX0811 posted a MOVIE REVIEW item: 7 months ago

Manchester By The Sea


Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan
Written by: Kenneth Lonergan
Cast: Casey Affleck, Gretchen Mol, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Tate Donovan
Genre: Drama
Official Site:
Plot: A man is becomes the sole legal guardian of his nephew after his brother dies.


If I was younger, Manchester by the Sea would’ve probably said this was my favorite movie of the year, maybe one of the best of all time because I was a bit of a snob and something about the tone watching it recently seemed like something that would definitely be my type. This intimate feeling the movie provides due to the tone and the setting as well as the plot makes this ready made for something I could see a young me watching on a lazy weekday afternoon on IFC or the Sundance Channel in the early 2000s during the summer because that’s a thing I did. I was really looking forward to it and for the most part, I was satisfied with what I got. It may not have hit the emotional highs that I was expecting it to but this is still a well crafted drama with some solid performances. It’s understandable why it’s hit a lot of people the way it does. It’s about grief and that’s something a lot of people deal with.

Overall, my favorite part of the movie was the kid Patrick, played by Lucas Hedges, who’s going through his father’s death. He acts like a teenager would act. It felt like the easiest to relate to as I’m probably closer to his age than the other character. It just felt like how life at that age would be. I’m not going to say my life in high school was exactly this but it evokes a feeling that I couldn’t help but embrace. I like the whole thing about him having two girlfriends. It adds nothing to the movie as a whole but it was a funny detail to add. This also inspired me to try to do something similar on my own life at some point when I get the chance. The performance is not charismatic or charming for the most part but that added to the realness of a teenager. Yet, he made a compelling character from that. He also helps to sell the moments where you asked to feel sympathetic and it’s weird how well they work since he’s just some typical jaded teenager for most of the movie. Honestly, if the movie was only from his perspective along with his C-grade rock band, this probably would've gotten a perfect score. Seriously, if this was a CW show, which it should totally be, I’d be happy with that as well. All those scenes with him were among my favorites. One aspect deals with where he’s going to live and the movie finds a way to make that a big deal. It’s not played too over the top but the performances but Hedges’s especially help to sell it. He was really funny and helped to bring levity to the movie. Plus, I think the fact that I’m closer to the kid’s age probably helped to make me like him more.

Honestly, I thought Casey Affleck as Lee was good but not “that needed an Oscar” good. That said, I like him as an actor and I was willing to give him a chance. He’s not the worst actor and he’s definitely showing up to do his part. I understand why his character was the way he was after all the devastating events that occurs. The way he behaves is justified and thanks to the writing, it’s feels natural to see how it connects to how he acted earlier in the movie. He’s still putting in a capable performance. He just moped around the whole movie though but he was an okay lead character, I guess. It’s not the kind of character that I got crazy for but the movie and Affleck is good enough to make the character simultaneously sympathetic and unlikable. I think where his best work lies is in his scenes with Patrick, where he’s making an attempt to connect with him. Those scenes always really worked for me. Michelle Williams as Lee’s ex wife Randi is also good and when certain things come to light about her and Affleck’s characters, they are both able to make you care for them even if their actions aren’t always the reflect the best of them as people. She’s not in it as much but she was good for what the movie asked of her and it helps to shade in some spaces and to make us understand them more considering their history.

I was hooked from beginning to end but I think the writing and the direction helps to carry it. It’s a big highlight of the movie for me. The story is fine but there’s a lot of movies I’ve seen similar to this. It’s a testament to Kenneth Lonergan’s talent that he can make it feel unique. But it’s got a refreshing way of how it tells its story. This is a movie that loves and respects its characters. It helps that a lot of the people in the movie are really talented actors. While the main performances were good, I thought the supporting characters did a really great job. Like George, the one boat guy who’s the family friend with the really big family. I liked him a lot and he was memorable in such a small amount of time. Matthew Broderick showed up for a few minutes and that was cool. There’s also the two girlfriends, who are interesting in their contrasting personalities. Even Lonergan has a nice cameo in the movie that made for an memorable moment. There’s something telling in even the smallest moments that I felt that these characters were so interesting and fully realized on their own and regardless of the size of the role that I wouldn’t mind seeing their own movie. Please don't actually do that though. That said, It never reached that huge emotional level for me I wanted it to mainly because I heard the huge praise prior to this. I appreciated its sense of humor despite its devastating and dour subject matter. It’s not necessarily a movie that bends over backwards to make you laugh but rather it’s about the small moments that add some necessary levity. There’s some rough material because of all the events that occur and the acting is strong enough to make you care for what’s happening. The cinematography is gorgeous for a very dialogue driven movie but it’s great for scene transitions when all you see is the sea. There’s a solid story being told here and that’s what matters the most. I didn’t cry but it still made me feel feelings.


Other reviews of this film: cerealkiller182 (9/10) , cobb (6/10) > Display all
oscarxp25 at 04:35 PM May 27

Extremely well made, acted, and written. It was a bit too long tbough. Affleck and Williams were great though