Manchester By The Sea is the story of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) who returns to his home town when his brother passes away unexpectedly.It soon dawns on him that he is to take over guardianship of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges) but struggles with the reality of the situation and the reasons why he had to leave in the first place.
Kenneth Lonergan directs this film that takes a look at life after a loved one has passed away and how one tragic event can have such a huge impact on your life. When we first meet Lee Chandler he is very direct and unfriendly, ignoring advances and starting fights.
The passing of his brother brings him back to Manchester and into direct contact with his nephew Patrick and those who know him as the Lee Chandler. Both Casey and Lucas give incredible performances as the two main characters and it is clear that they care for each other.
The conflict comes when Lee wants his nephew to come with him back to Boston while Patrick wants to stay where he has his friends, the boat and his girlfriends. However while that helps to fill out the story, the really important part is the relationship between them and what made Lee the way he is.
Flashbacks are used well in order to give us glimpses of Lee’s past and the events that made him the way he is. There is one particularly heartbreaking scene that shows us why it is so hard for Lee to be in Manchester and gives us a great insight into his character.
What I liked about this film was its ability to convey emotions and the story without the use of dialogue. We understand so much just through their performances that scenes such as the one in church need no words, only music is added to help convey their thoughts and feelings.
Michelle Williams plays Lee’s ex wife Randi Chandler and gives an incredible performance in a scene that is devastating to watch. There is a lot of strength and vulnerability to her, it shows most when she forgives Lee for the actions in his past. This scene reveals lots about their characters and where they are in life with Lee not being able to forgive himself.
Lucas Hedges gives a brilliant performance as Patrick who is a good person at heart even if he is somehow able to juggle two girlfriends at the same time. His band, friends and even his girlfriends may be secondary to the main story but they are important as they ground the story in reality which only helps to give the film a greater emotional weight.
The supporting cast in this film also give incredible performances and while there a lot of small parts, they all come together to make the film more of a whole. Ultimately they are helped by a good story that uses the past to help understand the present. Its scenes can be told with and without speech and the two leads work brilliantly together.
Manchester By The Sea is a really good film, it may not give you a fairy tale ending but it does gives you the ending that you need to see. It is full of great performances and I would highly recommend taking a look at this film.