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Manchester by the Sea

Coming Soon

Casey Affleck (The Finest Hours (2016), Triple 9 (2016)) stars in the serious drama, Manchester by the Sea, giving Affleck another opportunity to once again showcase his talents. Lee Chandler (Affleck) is a handyman for a few apartment buildings. He’s the guy that people call when something needs fixing and that’s pretty much all these people see him as. There appears to be no joy in Lee’s life as he just goes through the motions but every once in awhile he decides to stand up for himself and push back. There is pure contempt in his eyes towards others during these trying times. What could make a man become this way? Sitting patiently through this drama, audiences will come to feel the pain that Lee Chandler is going through and the heartbreaking sympathy that is attached.

Lee is brash, confrontational and very content with being alone. As Manchester by the Sea plays out we learn that the life and times of this once gregarious guy has seen more pain than a person should have to deal with this. It won’t take long for audiences to realize that the storyline is not that of a linear one. There are many, MANY flashbacks that will help shed light and understanding onto the big picture. There’s lots of family drama and more than enough family tragedy to go around. Lee is put in a position of having to care for someone other than just himself when his brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler) passes away leaving behind a 16 year-old son that needs to be cared for. It was Joe’s wish that Patrick (Lucas Hedges) be cared for by his uncle. As the plot evolves, more and more of backstory is presented which makes for an emotionally dense overture of what is still to come.

Watching Manchester by the Sea for the first time with little to no previous knowledge or expectations of what to expect made for an interesting experience. Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan does a marvelous job giving audiences just enough to hold their interests while slowly drawing them in deeper for complete immersion with gripping time-lapsed revelations. Casey Affleck (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013), Out of the Furnace (2013)) goes all in his performance this emotionally broken/damaged character. There are a few scene stealers in this drama. Kyle Chandler (Zero Dark Thirty (2012), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)), Lucas Hedges (The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)) and Michelle Williams (Certain Women (2016)) should all get at least a little consideration come award time for their contributions. Unfortunately for Williams, she doesn’t get quite enough screen time which could hurt her cause in the end. Her arc could have provided much more award ammunition had it been explored further. Having said that, the thought of making a 137 minute movie even longer for the sake of one actor is quite undesirable.

The problem with Manchester by the Sea is its long, deliberate pace. Viewers will have to really commit to the story in order to get the most out it. This could very well be one of those experiences that might be best served for in-home viewing. A pause button (and guiltily said…a fast forward button) could prove invaluable. The story is good. The acting is great. The editing…not so much. There’s really no reason to have this movie run as long as it did. I personally feel that the same emotional impact could be experienced while trimming out about 20 minutes of fluff.

Expectations go a long way for a movie like Manchester by the Sea. As long as you’re aware that the plot moves at a snail’s pace you’re well ahead of the game. I had no idea which is why kept waiting for something to blow the doors wide open. That didn’t happen until about ¾’s of the way through the movie and then a full picture was starting to be painted. The movie is pretty darn good as long as you have the discipline to sit through it all. You can check this one out in select theaters. With all of the awards starting to make their rounds I’m sure you’ll hear a lot about it. You might as well check it out so you can feel like an educated cinephile.

Manchester by the Sea is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler

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