Manchester By The Sea
A Review By Ben Hunter
4 Out Of 5 Stars


Typical Oscar bait, but still worth a go!


Unimaginative, that’s what you’ve become.  Your life feels of no meaning, your heart faint, your duty to God and country astray.  For you know of nothing, nothing but to feel the touch of your daughter’s laughter, to hold your son in arms once more.  Depression, heartache … sadness, day in … day out.  Every day of the last, as that one is today.  Drifting, prosaically into the abyss, as lifeboats cast by loved ones float amongst you, there they remain.  There you continue to drift. 

On a day you’ve purposely failed to record its existence, there she is, your mate.  The woman you’ve become one with, the female to provide nurture to your offspring, the very key to unleashing your sorrows into the abyss in which you float, and the one lifeboat you desire to partake of.  But she’s chosen another path, for the pain you’ve caused her.  Pain that pushed her to the furthest corners of the Earth, away from you.  For the two of you no longer share nurturing incumbency, she shares that with another.  A vital part of your prosaic drift into sadness. 

Though she pours her heart out in this occasion.  The allotment of day has entrusted you with a new one, a new bestowment of opportunity as your true love unburdens her guilt in your drift.  For the first time in a long time you truly hear what life has to say, what everyone who loves you has been trying to open your ears to, and you finally drink the imperative nourishment, detrimental to removing your sadness of stale. 

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) distraught and catching an unlucky break in the swing of things.  
As simple converse unravels into sincere confession, you suddenly realize what your true love means to you, what feels like everything.  But not literally as we all know.  You now actually see through the figure of speech.  She is everything, but not literally.  For it takes two to tango.  And she can only do so much.  You feel comfort in knowing she’s now stood next to you, thus helping to alleviate the albatross from aback.  However, this is your life, you have to live it … and she can only do so much.  So unhealthy sadness returns.  Unwarranted guilt restores its appearance, and faint … once again … you become.  You lovingly bid your heart ado as she continues to pour it regretfully on the Earth beneath the two of you.  And you maintain your progression of loitering attribute, into the prosaic … drift. 

Give Michelle Williams an Oscar, just for this scene!  This is some of her best work in my view and she had a very minuet role in terms of screen time.  Yet her overall affect was that of massive proportion.  Our hero, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is COMPLETELY distraught over the tragic events of his life.  And I could just feel his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) as a major part of why he is completely broken and only has enough in him to go through the motions, not really living.  Their emotional connection, beautifully displayed through the clever editing that writer/director Kenneth Lonergan (writer Gangs of New York, Anaylze This, You Can Count on Me), exquisitely shines through the curtains of their bedroom as the first of a series of poignant revelation.  All captured in the classic Boston culture that Producer Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Casey Affleck and his Brother Ben have made famous.  I would assume most people know enough about Michelle Williams that she isn’t of this culture, but after experiencing Manchester you would think she was just paying homage to her roots!  And she had a small part mind you, which is why she really stood out to me.  Aside from her work starring as myidol

Once lovers, tending to an open wound that never healed with real emotion and real pain.  
Lesley Barber’s score helps to set the tone of this tale of grief, loss, and responsibility.  The word around town is we’re looking at this year’s big winner of top honor and bragging rights.  So Barber really helped to elevate the feeling of greater than throughout.  As if this is more than just another serious, dramatic, typical awards movie that usually wins the big prize (though in all honesty, it really is).  Be it a film that won’t stick around for the long haul, this season being basically it, nonetheless, it is something to behold and cherish still if not at least for one go round this talk of legitimate diversity or not this Oscar season. 

If I didn’t think Casey Affleck is truly the brother of Ben Affleck, I know that for sure now!  There were moments when I took a second look as certain camera angles led me to believe I was looking at Ben.  With the position of the camera, they can be the same height even if Ben is significantly taller.  They move almost the same in main aspects and I say all this to say that it helped circulate the meaning of family which is a reoccurring theme throughout this narrative.  Lee (Affleck) is seriously dealing with the grief in his life and as we flashback in time to his brother Joe Chandler (Kyle “Chandler” who I still have a hard time not seeing at the PG-13 Coach Taylor from NBC’s Friday Night Lights and ultimately why I couldn’t get into his Netflix series “Bloodline”) Lee is reminded of what it means to be a father and to want that once again with the responsibility placed upon him.  Reminding him of the values he’s instilled in his children, those in his nephew, and of those close in his circle no matter how far outside of it he may feel.  Reminding me to take pride in my manhood and value the love of my future wife,  preserving her very input that helps me along my path and shapes me into a better partner.  Making us both better people and better teachers for our children.

That’s what a seaside, dramatic adventure can do for you this Oscar season! 

Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Drama, 137 Minutes, R
Written & Directed By: Kenneth Lonergan
Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, with Gretchen Mol, & Matthew Broderick

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