Manchester by the Sea(2016)
Grief drama from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me) starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler.... More
"Lee Chandler (Affleck, in a career-defining performance), is the resident handyman for a small apartment complex in a Boston suburb. He spends his days shovelling snow, fixing leaks, and doing his best to ignore the tenants' small talk. He spends his evenings either alone in his basement apartment or nursing a beer at his local, where he'll pick a fight with anyone who throws a glance his way.
"When he receives the news that his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has died of a congenital heart condition and that, to his unpleasant surprise, he's been appointed legal guardian of Joe's teenage son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), Lee returns to his nearby seaside hometown, a place of both cherished and painful memories. Despite the sudden loss of his father, and in stark contrast to his uncle, Patrick is full of life. As this mismatched pair stumbles through the mundane details of estate planning and the awkward strain of adolescence, Lee is forced to confront his past, revealed seamlessly through flashbacks, and the realities of his present." (Toronto International Film Festival)Hide
BY Matt-Glasby Flicks Writer
For an Oscar hopeful, writer/director Kenneth (You Can Count On Me, Margaret) Lonergan's wry, wrenching drama begins in about as mundane a manner as can be.... More
In a role earmarked for Matt Damon, who produces, Casey Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a glum Boston janitor for whom beer and bar fights provide life's only fleeting pleasures. Think: Good Will Hunting, sans mates and maths.
When his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies, Lee is called back to his hometown, the eponymous Massachusetts port, to play guardian to his 16-year-old nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), even though - as Lee protests -"I'm just the back up." There's no easy redemption here, and the pair’s interactions are alternately frosty, funny and awkward, with Lee’s depressed diffidence threatening to suffocate the whole film - until, that is, what's really wrong becomes apparent.
As a broken man trapped in a situation he can't shrug or slug his way out of, Affleck has never been better. Hedges, who looks just like Damon, excels as his horny, angry charge. And Michelle Williams, as Lee’s ex-wife Randi, makes a no-doubt Oscar-winning impression in just a handful of heartfelt scenes. Lonergan, meanwhile, makes clever use of disarming details - mumbled miscommunications, misfiring props, a misplaced car - to undercut any melodrama.
What emerges is as subtle as it is shattering: ordinary, unshowy and, underneath, red raw with real feelings. If, as one critic noted, Lee has no Good Will Hunting-style "It’s not your fault” moment, that's because, a) life’s never that simple, and b) it’s just not that type of film.Hide
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Manchester by the Sea
BY cinemusefilm superstar
The plotline has a simple core narrative framed by several abrupt flashbacks that gradually piece together a jigsaw-like story. We meet Lee (Casey Affleck) as a... More handyman and depressive loner whose temper blows over at little provocation. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that he lives in self-exile because of a horrible family tragedy he caused. He has become emotionally hollowed out and unable to relate to people. Suddenly his brother has a fatal heart attack and his will names Lee as executor and guardian of 16 year-old son Patrick (Lucas Hedges). But to accept this responsibility, Lee must move back to the idyllic seaside town of Manchester by the Sea which is full of traumatic memories, including of his attempted suicide, his divorced wife, and people who are wary of him. He stays for the funeral, drinks heavily, lashes out physically, argues with his teenage nephew, and wants to cut and run. Gradually, he becomes emotionally re-connected with family and place through the experience of caring for the typically full-of-himself nephew. Lee’s traumatic past makes way for new beginnings, new relationships, and the hope of redemption.
If you look for originality in storytelling, there is little of it here. Painful battles with inner demons is a cliché, and fighting several at once is simply a compound cliché not something new. Half of this film is spent on assembling the narrative jigsaw so we can understand what makes Lee the way he is, and the other half is spent on standard melodrama tropes about re-connecting by caring for someone else. However, it is the casting, characterisation, and cinematography that save this film from being just another story of angry people destabilised by tragedy. Casey Affleck does trauma and ambivalence very effectively. His bemused tolerance of his nephew’s demands and sexual exploits becomes the emotional scaffold that guides his calming from pot-boiling anger to resigned acceptance that life must go on. Lucas Hedges is the perfect foil for Casey Affleck, and both are helped by a strong support ensemble.
Brilliant acting by Affleck does not hide the film’s melodramatic predictability. But this slow essay on anger would be more unsettling were it not for its joyful filming. Trauma is calmed and un-likable characters forgiven when all are nestled against beautiful images of bobbing fishing vessels lapping the shores of charming Manchester by the Sea. The camerawork visually warms the film and helps bind its elements into an engaging story of loss and redemption.Hide
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