Tony's Take


manchester-by-the-sea-posterA Harrowing Tale of Family, Life, and Loss

Kenneth Lonergan brings-us one of the year’s most dark and depressing familial dramas in the fantastic “Manchester by the Sea”.  The film takes place in Manchester, a northern coast town in Massachusetts.  Lee Chandler lives his life taking care of multiple apartment buildings, just getting-through with very little means.  We notice a depression about Lee, as well as signs of alcoholism and anger issues.  As we are introduced to his life, we also are treated to flashbacks of his past that start to put-together his story.  One day, he is called back to his home of Manchester after his brother, Joe, suffers a serious heart attack and passes away suddenly.  Joe leaves-behind a young son in high school, Patrick.  After Lee tells Patrick, Lee is faced with the difficult job of raising his nephew Patty; as per Joe’s final wishes.  As Lee and Patty attempt to adjust to their new life, he must face the trials of parenting; all while dealing with the North Shore community and confronting his hidden, tragic past.

Casey Affleck stars as Lee Chandler, the younger brother who assumes parental responsibility of Patty after Joe passes away.  Affleck is absolutely heartbreaking, nailing the many different emotions his character is forced to go through; you will see him secure endless Award nominations soon!  Kyle Chandler has a brief role as Lee’s older brother, Joe.  Lucas Hedges plays Patrick “Patty” Chandler, Joe’s son.  Hedges too is fantastic, acting-out and dealing with his father’s death authentically.  Michelle Williams plays Randi, Lee’s ex-wife.  Gretchen Mol is Joe’s ex-wife, Elise.  Matthew Broderick is Elise’s new husband, Jeffrey.  Kara Hayward plays Patty’s girlfriend, Silvie.  Heather Burns plays Silvie’s mom, Jill.  Josh Hamilton and Tate Donovan have brief roles as well.

“Manchester by the Sea” is dark, depressing, and very real, but its performances bring-about life in a very tragic story, with a few rays of happiness scattered throughout; combining to be one of the best films of 2016!  Part of the reason for the film’s dark and morose subject matter is Kenneth Lonergan himself.  He was facing a rough patch in his life, feeling bored and depressed, when Matt Damon suggested he take-on the film.  His influence shows in not-only the events of the story, but also the characters’ emotions and actions.  Making those emotions real are the heroes of the film, the actors.  Affleck is superb and truly carries the burden of his character on his face; his typical low-key personality and demeanor is a natural fit for the film.  Hedges is convincing as a young man faced with extreme life-changing circumstances as well.  Death, depression, violence, anger, substance abuse, and many other undertones are showcased throughout the film.  A concoction of tragedy that is hard to watch, but even harder to look away-from.  “Manchester by the Sea” is also infected by a low-level morose score from start to finish, injecting more emotion to an already emotional tale.   The film’s cinematography of a cold, wintry Manchester also fits the dark tone of the film to-perfection.  “Manchester by the Sea” has a run time of 137 minutes, with each passing scene more tragic and compelling than the next.  In short, “Manchester by the Sea” is a marvelous masterpiece of modern cinema!  The film features some of the finest performances of 2016, as well as one of the most humanely-depressing stories to grace the silver screen.  “Manchester by the Sea” will not brighten your day, but it is a film that should not be missed; one that will certainly be a strong contended in multiple Award categories!

“Manchester by the Sea” follows a tragic story of a man’s life after his brother suddenly passes away and he is forced to return home to face his haunting past.  The film features award-caliber performances, a depressing human story, and is an absolutely Masterpiece.  If you are heading to the movies this weekend, “Manchester by the Sea” should be at the top of your list!!  

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MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is rated R for language throughout and some sexual content, in theaters DECEMBER 2ND!!


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