STARRING: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Gretchen Mol, C.J Wilson, Tate Donovan, Kara Hayward, Anna Baryshnikov, Heather Burns, Erica McDermott and Matthew Broderick
An uncle is asked to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies.
Manchester By The Sea focuses on Lee Chandler who returns home to care for his nephew after his brother dies. Lee soon learns that he’s been named guardian to his nephew Patrick and we see how he struggles with that decision as well as returning to reopen an unspeakable tragedy from his past which made him leave Manchester many years before.
Finally I have gotten around to watching the critically acclaimed and one that has picked up a number of nominations this awards season Manchester By The Sea. The film focuses on quiet handyman Lee Chandler living in Quincy, Massachusetts when he returns to his hometown of Manchester-by-the-Sea as his brother passes away and is shocked to learn that he’s named guardian to nephew Patrick. As he struggles the decision, we get flashbacks to why Lee left Manchester many years ago.
Kenneth Lonergan has done a tremendous job in directing Manchester By The Sea which focuses on Grief and communication (or the lack of), with the performances elevating the film even further. Casey Affleck is terrific as Lee Chandler, a man who is literally an empty shell of a man he used to be as he’s isolated himself from as much human interaction as possible as he removes himself from his hometown after a tragedy crushes him. Lucas Hedges also gives a good performance as nephew Patrick, particularly in the scenes in which he shares alongside Affleck. I’m surprised that Michelle Williams wasn’t in the film for as long as I initially believed she would be but she has one scene in particular which cements why she’s been getting nominations this awards season. There is a few scenes done well, with the one standing out for me most is Lee at the police station. The score from Lesley Barber is really good too.
While I don’t normally mind slow films if I end up being investing in the characters, I must admit that I just couldn’t get into it after all the hype surrounding the film. Hedges character I found to be irritating half the time and Williams scene in the third act, while well acted, just felt as cold as Lee is throughout the whole film as there wasn’t enough time spent on their relationship beforehand to make me care. The editing of the flashbacks at times can be jarring, especially the one where the tragedy is revealed but it has too many cuts between that and Lee staring out the window almost endlessly and then there’s a dream sequence that just felt too much on the nose considering how the rest of the narrative is told.
Manchester By The Sea relies on people connecting with the material of tragedy and grief and for me while I can appreciate the directing from Lonergan and the performances amongst the case, especially Affleck, I just couldn’t get emotionally invested with the story nor invest in any of the characters. Perhaps my expectations were too high and that’s why I feel underwhelmed with the film, maybe my opinion will change on a second viewing later in the year. 6/10