Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Patrick: What happened to your hand?

Lee: I cut it.

Patrick: *sarcasm* Oh thanks, For a minute there, I didn’t know what happened.

Directed and written by Kenneth Lonergan exploration of grief stars Casey Affleck, playing a Bostonian janitor Patrick who loses his brother (Joe Chandler) to a heart problem.  He’s forced now to take care of his sixteen-year-old nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedge). The movie explores their developing relationship and more importantly explores the different ways to dealing with grief. Through flashbacks we learn that Patrick has suffered loss previously and that colors his reaction to losing his brother.

I can’t beat it. I can’t beat it. I can’t beat it…

The movie received high praise so I went in with really high expectations.  At first I was a bit disappointed. I was hoping for more, especially in terms of the ending. However, after mulling over it I realized that it’s the type of movie that you can’t truly appreciate unless you take some time away from it and maybe even watch it again.

Manchester by the Sea , is an emotionally raw. It’s emotionally manipulative and made me feel things: 353b663853023be06617298874b2ff05

There isn’t much in terms of character development or plot, it focuses mostly on the exploration of grief. How different people react to and process grief differently. It was realistic and cleverly taps into the human psyche. I just can’t emphasize enough how emotional it makes you feel.

Throughout the narrative, we get flashbacks of Lee’s previous life and though it was a creative approach to the flashbacks it didn’t always work because it disrupts the narrative in a confusing way.

I don’t want to get into identity politics so I’ll keep this brief and then get back to the movie. The problem with this movie is that it hardly has any women and even less people of color. It’s very white-male centric. And as much as I loved the movie, I think we’re tired of having white men leads, and I’m not saying we should treat diversity as a checklist, no it should be used appropriately. So sure, in context, the movie is set in Manchester a predominately white town so it makes sense, but still I’m pretty sure there are women at least in the town who could’ve played a bigger role in it. I’m not an expert so I can’t say what exactly could’ve been done to improve the movie in terms of diversity. At least it wasn’t the typical white man saving everyone else and it portrayed a rather different take on masculinity in terms of allowing the characters to show their emotions, a little bit at least. As I said, I don’t want to get into politics or say something that’ll spark an argument I just thought I’d point this out. Now back to the movie.

The cinematography was phenomenal, the scenes of human interactions are interspersed with wide shots of the sea or forestry. Or maybe I just love New England scenery.

The one thing I didn’t expect at all in the movie was the humor. It was freaking hilarious in an unexpected way, especially since it is a movie about grief. But the sarcasm, snark, and jokes were fantastic, especially since 98% of the time it was completely unexpected and natural. There were also many New England/Boston jokes and references that I recognized and probably wouldn’t have appreciated before moving to Amherst.

My biggest issue with the movie was the ending: it was abrupt; almost incomplete. In a way I think it was good because it’s unexpected and unconventional but leaving the movie I was disappointed and frustrated because I wanted more. Like I said earlier, it’s a movie that you appreciate afterward rather than during.

Score: 4.5/5

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