MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Sad, Tragic Arthouse Tale
Release Date: November 18, 2016
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle
Willisma, Kyle Chandler, Lucas
Hedges, Grethcen Mol, C.J.
Runtime: 97 minutes
Distributor: Amazon Studios/Roadside
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward,
Chris Moore, Lauren Beck,
Kevin J. Walsh
Writer: Kenneth Lonergan
Address Comments To:Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff, Co-President, Roadside Attractions (a subsidiary of Lionsgate Films)
7920 Sunset Blvd., Suite 402
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Phone: (323) 882-8490; Fax: (323) 882-8493
Website: www.roadsideattractions.com; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thirtysomething Lee Chandler is a maintenance man working for four apartment complexes in Boston. His surly behavior toward some of the renters gets him in trouble with his boss. He also sometimes gets into minor fights at bars.
Lee gets news that his brother, Joe, has finally died of a heart attack after years of a terribly heart disease. Joe has left behind a 16-year-old son, Patrick. So, Lee returns to his hometown of Manchester-by-the-Sea to handle his brother’s funeral and look after Patrick.
However, when Lee learns his brother left him everything and wants him to be Patrick’s guardian, he balks at the responsibility. Slowly, as Lee learns to deal with the aftermath of his brother’s death, flashbacks reveal how a great personal tragedy broke up his marriage and transformed him from a happy uncle to a younger Patrick to the emotional wreck he is today.
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is a very well acted character study, but it’s filled with many “f” words and other foul language. For some reason, in recent years the Boston area seems to have surpassed New York City in the number of “f” words movie characters say. Apparently, this is a noteworthy cultural phenomenon. Also, the protagonist lets his teenage nephew be promiscuous with two girls. He even covers up for him with the girls’ parents. Furthermore, although Lee tells Patrick proudly in one scene that they’re Catholic, not Protestant, Christians, it’s abundantly clear neither Lee nor Patrick practice any faith at all, except for having a priest conduct the brother’s funeral. By the end of the movie, it’s also become clear that religion is absolutely no help in assisting Lee to recover from the great personal tragedy he has suffered. So, [SPOILER ALERT] the movie’s ending just shows Lee finding another guardian for Patrick so that Lee can return to Boston and live out his sad life.
There are claims among some critics that MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is a “masterpiece.” However, a true masterpiece would show the protagonist undergoing at least some kind of change. Instead, when it comes to the protagonist’s character, the movie’s plot structure is just static. This doesn’t make for truly great cinema, much less a masterpiece.
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is well acted, but the plot structure is static because the protagonist never really changes. Viewers do learn, though, that Lee suffered a devastating personal tragedy. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA contains abundant foul language. Also, Lee lets his nephew fool around with teenage girls. One scene informs viewers Lee considers his family Catholic, but his alleged faith offers no healing to help him move past the great tragedy he suffered. So, there’s nothing really redemptive about the movie MANCHESTER BY THE SEA.