Manchester By The Sea Review – Strong Performances Generate Oscar Buzz in This Tragic Drama

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Manchester by the Sea, from Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions, presents the heart-wrenching drama of one family and how they cope when their worlds collide, and fall apart, as the unimaginable strips them of everything.

Directed and written Kenneth Lonergan and produced by Matt Damon, Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Gretchen Mol, C.J. Wilson with Matthew Broderick and Tate Donovan.

Manchester by the Sea opens in the height of Boston’s famous winters with piles of snow and ice as scene after scene shows the life of a maintenance worker for an apartment complex handling the mundane tasks associated with life in aging buildings.

An all-around handy man, Lee Chandler, played by Casey Affleck, handles the electrical, water leaks, and stopped up bathroom plumbing and with each household different dynamics come into play: he is simply the lowly janitor in one apartment and love interest in another.

A phone call brings the past colliding with his lonely present. In flashbacks we learn Lee’s brother Joe, played by Kyle Chandler, is diagnosed with degenerative heart condition, his wife, Elise, played by Gretchen Mol, an alcoholic is unable to handle the realities of the disease and she eventually leaves and the two divorce leaving Joe to raise their son.

On this day, Lee is heading to home to a place his past and the burdens of his own life are on every face, around every corner, in every memory. Before he makes it to the hospital, his brother dies and suddenly he is again in the adult role. His nephew, Patrick, played by Lucas Hedges, is now his main concern.

We also learn in flashbacks that Lee, at one time was happily married to Randi, played by Michelle Williams, with three babies. The five of them had a quaint life in Manchester-by-the-Sea with Lee working Joe’s boat bringing in the day’s catch and on longer trips money from the big hauls.

Their home, had the man cave, the house where everyone would gather, drinking, a little smoke, sometimes more, other times less with darts, pool, noise typical for the guys. Randi, with three sleeping babies was not having this every weekend.

Back to the tasks of today, Joe had to be buried only the harsh winters made the ground to frozen to dig and he had to be on ice until spring. Patrick had to be told and as much as he understood he had time to come to grips that his dad was dying.

With years to plan for his inevitable early death, Joe worked out the details bringing Lee back into the fold with new responsibility. Patrick, a typical teen tested every boundary with his Uncle and his grief as he invited his girlfriend to spend the night getting the okay with “my dad let me.”

Soon invoking the memory of his dead father was working on everyone including a second girl who was helping him with grief management therapy.

Manchester by the Sea is a poignant resonating film as Lee, who from his own tragedy became the walking dead, a manifestation of a person who walks through life unable to move past the deep tragedy that cost him what he believes was his fault and his only chance.

His dedication to the loves he lost is deeply resonating as he is reminded of the life when he sits alone. With Joe always trying even from the grave to pull him back into the land of the living, he makes him the executor of his estate and single caregiver, guardian of Patrick. He’s got no issues with it as he plans to move him to Boston, to leave the memories that like a plague rise in the eyes of everyone, friend and foe.

Patrick is also facing the past as his mom has emailed him and wants to see him. Now a born again Christian, she has married a nice Christian man, Jeffrey, played by Matthew Broderick who believes that reveling all your feelings are the way to a productive relationship especially to a 15-year-old just reconciling with his mom. The awkwardness of their first meeting drives her back to the bottle and him back to his dysfunctional but solid uncle.

Manchester by the Sea is an award vehicle. The sorrow that hangs in the air like the deep cold just reaches out from the screen and finds that place in the heart.

Casey Affleck is surprisingly good. His range and depth of emotion, his ability to portray the bottomless pit of sorrow, the kind that just won’t go away. It is an academy award performance.

I was genuinely moved by Michelle Williams. Her performance, until her apologetic monologue, is good, it shifts at that moment to award winning. I expect her to receive a nomination for her role also.

Gretchen Mol has been around for some time and is finally coming into her own. This role, as the alcoholic turned Christian mother abandoning her child is a pivotal turn for her. She nailed every emotion. She is very good and deserves the praise for it.  

The entire cast brings deep performances even as our Patrick, who knows how to manipulate the grief for his own gain. Lucas Hedges take the role and brings a teen, he was raised without a mom, not without love as he knows he was loved, to the screen. 

Manchester by the Sea is a film about life, the sudden turns, the ache, the unbelievable sorrow that seems to open too big arms, wrap itself around us and never let go and tries to bring you under.  It’s the kind you just can’t get beyond.

The performances are stunning, shocking and real. They capture the heartache of sudden tragedy, the kind that hurdles your emotions into a brick wall, of blinding pain, never ending. It stays in your soul.

Manchester by the Sea is playing in select cities. Check local listings. It will expand to theaters everywhere soon. See it. 

Images courtesy of Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions via IMDB and used with permission..

Haute Tease

  • COVID-19, Le Nouveau Compagnon De Voyage Français

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Le traitement de la crise du COVID-19 par le président de la République Emmanuel Macron et les gouvernements régionaux suscite à la fois des controverses et des critiques soulevant des questions concernant le drame humain qui a atteint un point d'ébullition.  

  • Twin Explosions in Russian Metro Blast; Ten Killed; Dozens Injured (Pictures)

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    At least ten commuters, possibly children on spring break, are known to have died as twin shrapnel bombs tore through two subway trains, in St. Petersburg, Russia, that left dozens injured according to the state news agency TASS.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Trump’s State of the Union; Immigration; Border Wall; Gallery; Media Stats on SOTU; Castro’s Son Suicide

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Donald Trump addressed the nation this week in the annual State of the Union, which was met with great enthusiasm and dismay, as he emphasized key elements that reinforce his often polarizing view of a Great America.

     
  • Charlie Hebdo, The Survivor’s Edition, Has Hit Newsstands

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Charlie Hebdo, the survivor's edition, has hit newsstands and for the once struggling newspaper, the irony isn't lost on the remaining staff that buckled down, reminiscent of September 11 New York scribes, who through the tears remained true to the calling.

     
  • Academy Celebrates Hollywood Costume with Private Luncheon Hosted By Annette Bening, Crystal Lourd, Gwyneth Paltrow and Elizabeth Wiatt

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted a private luncheon and viewing of the current exhibition, Hollywood Costume,on Wednesday, October 8, at the Wilshire May Company building—future home of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

     
  • Money News: North American Markets Close Up; Asian Tumble

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The DOW Jones Industrial Average, holding the bear at bay, closed the trading week up with mild double digit gains setting the tone as the rally carried over with mild gains and strong performances across North American and European Markets.

     
  • Celebrities Partner with OCEANA to Restore Worlds Oceans

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    OCEANA, founded in 2001, is the largest ocean protection group in the world dedicated to restoring, implementing and protecting the world’s oceans. 

     
  • Weed Nations: The Top Pot-Loving Countries

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Marijuana legalization has been a political issue in the United States for some time, and while it remains illegal in most states, others have softened their stance in recent years with Colorado and Washington leading the way.  

  • SPAIN Terror Attacks: Nation on High Alert as Twin Terror Attacks Leave 14 Dead; Hundreds Injured, 17 Critical

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Fourteen people are dead, and more than 100 injured after coordinated twin car/van ramming terror attacks, hours apart, struck the trendy tourist coastal city of Barcelona and Cambrils, a posh resort town 70 miles south.

     
  • Monkey King San Diego Review - Unique History; Delicious Chinese Cuisine, Late-Night Dining

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    San Diego's famed Gaslamp Quarter, a bustling community filled with vibrant nightlife, which unquestionably includes dining options. Amid the burgeoning downtown culinary scene is Monkey King, an elegant late-night Chinese cuisine eatery that opened its doors in late 2017.

     
  • World News: Former Shiloh Mayor David Rubin Answers Questions on The Alabama Abortion Law: What Does Judaism Say

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Alabama just passed a bill protecting pre-born babies even in cases of rape and incest, in a trend following Georgia and several other states enacting laws restricting abortion, in stark contrast to the recent on demand New York law.

     
  • Ben Hur Review - Grand, Powerful, A Sure Winner

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Ben-Hur, from Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, presents the epic story of two brothers and their fight against position and circumstance, against betrayal and binding love, against consuming anger and forgiveness, against loyalty, hope of healing and the power of redemption.

     
  • Long Shot Review - Romantic Comedy with Heart

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Long Shot, from Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment, present a playful romantic comedy as two completely opposite adults reconnect against all odds and barely avoid all the landmines those closest to them plant hoping to derail and manipulate.

     
  • First Man Review – Damien Chazelle’s Epic Has All The Right Stuff

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    First Man, from Amblin Entertainment, Dreamworks and Universal Pictures, presents the story of the Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, and those who yearned, loved and lost before seeing the greatest accomplishment of mankind.

     
  • Driver Charged in New Hampshire Motorcycle Carnage

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The driver of the pickup truck, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, that inadvertently caused a devastating collision Friday evening in New Hampshire killing seven members of a Marine Jarheads MC Motorcycle club, has been charged with seven counts of negligent homicide.