Manchester By The Sea is a story of love, grief and determination.
We watch as Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) returns to his hometown after the sudden death of his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), leaving him guardian to his 16-year-old nephew Patrick (Ben O’Brien).
As if losing his only sibling and taking on the care of a brooding teenager wasn’t enough to cope with, Lee’s return home re-opens a harrowing past he would rather forget.
His ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) lives in the same time town and it’s too much pain for him to bear. The bottle is the only thing that has ever been there for Lee, but if he continues down this path of destruction then he risks losing the only family he has left.
Throughout the movie we see, through a series of flashbacks, what caused Lee to leave Manchester and distance himself to such a degree. The pain that he feels isn’t limited to grief for the loss of his brother, but also of old life. The grief-stricken brother is stuck in the last place he would ever want to be, looking after a child he doesn’t want to be a guardian of, with the past ever present, a constant reminder of his continued misfortunes.
We watch as he struggles in silence to cope, and it’s that element that makes the performance so believable, so human. Lee’s suffering is so intense that it’s almost suffocating. The granular detail that director Kenneth Lonergan has gone to creates a realistic account of losing a loved one.
Manchester By The Sea is beautifully crafted. It’s a heart-breaking, yet graceful story of loss and grief.
By Ruth Walker