‘Manchester by the Sea’ evokes sorrow, sympathy

Andrew Shermoen

2016 was an outstanding year for dramas.

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is an abrasive and depressed janitor working in Quincy, Massachusetts. When an accident brings the family members back together Lee, is saddled with having to care for his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). To do so, Lee must return to his hometown and drudge up painful memories, the toughest to reconcile being his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams).

“Manchester by the Sea” is about pain. It’s about people’s difficulty grieving, people shutting themselves away and not talking so they don’t have to deal with painful emotions. It’s about these people learning to reconnect and heal together. The film is difficult to watch at times because it strikes such an emotional chord in its audience, but that shouldn’t diminish the overall enjoyment of the viewer.

The emotive story is only heightened by the amazing performances on display in the film. Affleck’s performance is his best yet. His movements and emotions are subtle and reserved, perfectly capturing Lee’s tortured soul in full swing. He comes across as incredibly charming, despite his rude attitude towards certain people. He isn’t bumbling or incompetent, just lost and adrift, much like the boat he loves to take out to sea. Lucas Hedges first major role captures how great a talent he is. He’s a teenager who refuses to show vulnerability, so he puts on a fake air of confidence. Seeing his strong public appearance laced in with his vulnerable private moments is absolutely fascinating and heartbreaking to watch. Lucas and Lee’s relationship is the focal point of the movie and the lessons they teach each other, along with the growth they go through is beautiful. Williams also does a great job. Her scenes build her as a strong, yet broken woman who regrets the past and wishes to reconcile the wrongs she did to Lee.

“Manchester by the Sea” is a beautiful and heartfelt film, and it’s certainly one of the most emotional and well-crafted movies of the year.

Rating: 4.5/5