18th May2017

‘Manchester by the Sea’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler | Written and Directed by Kenneth Lonergan


Sometimes I wonder why we put ourselves through watching some films, they can be very depressing to watch. Manchester by the Sea is a good example of a depressing movie, but when a film is as good as this one, you just can’t resist to watch it.

When Lee Chandler’s (Casey Affleck) brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies, Lee has to return home to look after his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). On returning though, it brings back memories that he fought hard to hide from, and people he thought he could leave in the past.

At the start of the film we see Lee as a man in a dead-end job, and seemingly being an ass-hole to anybody who tries to interact with him. When he gets the call and he rushes home, he has to face flashbacks of the past. Through these flashbacks, we begin to learn just why he acts the way he does and what he is hiding from.

It comes as no surprise that Casey Affleck won an Oscar for his performance in Manchester by the Sea, he perfectly plays a man trying to control emotions that are fighting hard to get out. Everything he goes through is internalised and stored away, until he ends up lashing out at strangers in order to vent what is hidden inside.

What you see in Affleck’s performance though is interesting intense emotion, which is always fighting to just break out in a huge outburst of pain. The way he lives in a one room apartment, does the jobs nobody wants to do, and just tries to be left alone is all about control. This is until of course he is forced to go home and face his past. The audience are the only ones other than him to fully realise the pain he is going through still as we see his flashbacks to the truth behind his character, and of course the emotions.

This is where the depressing nature of the film comes in, because this is a man who has gone through tragedy that while relatable, is something none of us would ever want to go through. Instead of finding a release, it is all pushed down inside and left to fester. The beauty in Manchester by the Sea though is when we see the true person hidden in Affleck’s performance. Lee is a man who gave up on life in the past, while life didn’t give up on him.

This can be seen in the writing and direction by Kenneth Lonergan. An example of just how good he is at guiding the audience to understand the pain Lee is going through is through three picture frames. We only see the back of them, but we know what they are straight away and we see Lee handle them with so much love, just that act is heart-breaking. It is that tenderness though that shows the beautify of Manchester by the Sea. The fact they are used numerous times in the movie and they hit so hard emotionally, show the power of the film.

What is also impressive is the cast for the film, not only is Affleck good but the supporting cast are perfectly chosen. This is especially the case for Lucas Hedges as Chandler and Michelle Williams as Lee’s ex-wife. Her performance is heart-breaking to watch, especially when she tries to reach out to him. In many ways, her character is the key to forcing Lee to finally letting go of his emotions, if anything she is the only one who can make him open up, and that is what scares him the most.

Manchester by the Sea is one of those movies that show just how strong 2016 was for film fans. It may be depressing, but there is also that glimmer of hope hidden within its story. Lee as a character may be an ass-hole at the start of the film, but you really feel him coming out of his shell and that is the light in the darkness in this must-see movie.

***** 5/5

Manchester by the Sea is available on Blu-ray and DVD now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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