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Film Review: 'Manchester by the Sea' Beautiful, Emotional Roller Coaster

by Todd A. Smith


(Photo Credit: Roadside Attractions)



True Sorrow and Pain 



Music critics often criticize singers with big voices for over singing a song.

Even though an artist might have a big voice like Teddy Pendergrass, Gerald LeVert or Johnny Gill, delivering an understated performance sometimes shows truer human emotions.

In the film “Manchester by the Sea,” Casey Affleck delivers a pure and heartbreaking performance of a man who has lost everything but cannot check out on life as a whole because of the lives that still depend on him.

“Manchester by the Sea” tells the story of Lee Chandler (Affleck) who is infamous in his hometown of Manchester, Mass.

His infamy is not earned because of something he did intentionally, but because of a mistake that he made that ended up being permanent, especially for him.

The film, which is told in present time as well as in flashbacks, proves how one can have everything and how things can change instantly because of negligence or one costly mistake.

Lee has two beautiful daughters, an infant son and a supportive wife, Randi (Michelle Williams).

Randi suffers from a breathing problem, which makes it difficult for the family to use the heater.

However, other than that minor ailment, the Chandlers are the typical middle-class American family.

Additionally, Lee has a great older brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler) and a great relationship with his young nephew Patrick, (Ben O’Brien).

When Lee hits rock bottom, Joe and Patrick are always there to pick him up and lift his broken spirits.

However, when Joe is diagnosed with congenital heart disease and given five to 10 years to live, the Chandlers begin to unravel.

Joe’s wife disappears from the family and becomes an alcoholic and absentee mother to teenage Patrick (Lucas Hedges).

Almost simultaneously, Lee loses everything he has ever loved in a freak accident.

His loss triggers depression in him that affects his relationship with peers, employers and the entire town of Manchester.

But when Joe grants guardianship of Patrick over to Lee, he must confront his fears and his gut wrenching past and do what is best for the remaining member of his family.

Affleck is simply a brilliant, emotional roller coaster in “Manchester by the Sea.”

The film “Manchester by the Sea” is especially hard to watch because around the holiday season many parents make the same mistake that Lee does, which makes life hell on Earth if one is able to survive the mistake.

Although his performance might not equal that of Denzel Washington in “Fences,” his performance epitomizes Oscar contender.

Affleck could have easily over acted, but his understated performance is more believable and realistic for a man grieving an unthinkable loss.

Lee does not scream, yell and cry over his loss.

But he does give up and lash out at any and everything.

His performance shows the complex way in which people grieve, not simply the stereotypical tears.

Furthermore, Hedges gives a sarcastic, but smooth performance as the teenage Patrick.

Although he grieves his father’s loss, he too does so in his own unique way.

Unfortunately for “Manchester by the Sea,” the editing is way too choppy for such a great film.

Editor Jennifer Lame should have transitioned from scene to scene a little smoother than she did.

Nevertheless, Affleck’s performance in “Manchester by the Sea” proves music critic rules apply to films as well.

True emotion is not always overly dramatic emotion.


And sometimes less is more when capturing true human feelings.






This article was published on Friday 09 December, 2016.
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