Manchester by The Sea isn’t the usual kind of the film I get the opportunity to see. It’s a movie grounded in realism, sadness, and the awkwardness of life. The director and writer Kenneth Lonergan doesn’t make it romantically sad like you might see in a movie similar to The Fault in Our Stars. Lonergran rather shows the very realistic side of tragedy, heart break, and lose through the awkwardness of human interaction, complexity of what makes up our personality, and why we act the way we do. Throughout the movie Lonergran is able to get more laughs through then I expected with this awkwardness mainly through the brilliant work of Casey Affleck and his characters introverted personality. Self doubt, emotional numbness, and an inescapable past create a character that seems to attract chuckle worthy moments of awkward engagements with other cast members.
In our introduction to Lee Chandler’s life (Casey Affleck) we witness him doing janitorial work for a couple apartment complexes. As he’s plunging one of the toilets you can hear in the background the tenet talking on the phone, “I think I have a thing for my janitor. Have you ever had sexual fantasies about your handy man? Oh, I shouldn’t approach him right now I’m not my best dressed.” The expression on Lee’s face as he gets a tip from the tenet is priceless. It’s moments like this throughout the movie that break through the rather somber story as Lee tries to manage the death of his brother, look after his nephew, and move back to a town where he’s only known for a major event in his past that has broken his heart and hope of some kind of normalcy in his life. Normalcy is likely not the correct word to use as all of the characters and their stories really show that there is simply nothing normal about life. The story of Lee’s past unfolds in a combination of flashbacks throughout the movie that show the drastic transformation of Lee’s personality after one sobering event that a whole town of people remember him for. His fight to be able to be a person beyond the shadow of his past is at the forefront of this movie with a Golden Globe worthy performance by Casey Affleck.
While the acting and writing were brilliant this is a slow burner and is more about appreciating those aspects of the movie rather then looking for some awesome or amazing story. This movie attempts to capture the human experience more then anything. It’s a compilation of odd circumstances, encounters, and showing how each character deals with them. By avoiding that romantic tragedy that we see in many movies today, Manchester by The Sea was able to capture a realistic depiction of how people deal with death, love, and the past and I appreciated it for doing that. I enjoyed this movie in a different way then I expected to and yet I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone to see. I could attempt to write more about the nature of the story or what I thought about the oddly placed music, but I think this is enough to tell you if this is something that you’d want to see.