Manchester by the Sea Blu-ray Review

Devastatingly powerful human drama is a must-see film. 4.5 Stars

Recovering from a devastating loss varies from person to person, and no better example of that can be found than in Kenneth Lonergan’s shattering Manchester by the Sea, an intimate character study so exact and so detailed that it’s impossible to look away, no matter how painful or poignant it is.

Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Released: 16 Dec 2016
Rated: R
Runtime: 137 min
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Genre: Drama
Cast: Casey Affleck, Ben O'Brien, Kyle Chandler, Richard Donelly
Writer(s): Kenneth Lonergan
Plot: An uncle is asked to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy's father dies.
IMDB rating: 8.4
MetaScore: 96

Disc Information
Studio: Lionsgate
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Rating: R
Run Time: 2 Hr. 17 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
Case Type: keep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 02/21/2017
MSRP: $39.99

The Production: 5/5

Recovering from a devastating loss varies from person to person, and no better example of that can be found than in Kenneth Lonergan’s shattering Manchester by the Sea, an intimate character study so exact and so detailed that it’s impossible to look away, no matter how painful or poignant it is. With commanding performances following through with this story of life and loss, Manchester by the Sea earns all of the plaudits it’s received during this award season.

When his dear brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies from complications due to congestive heart disease, his younger brother Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is flabbergasted to learn that his brother has named him as the guardian for his sixteen year-old nephew Patrick (Ben O’Brien as a child, Lucas Hedges as a teenager). Lee had left Manchester some years ago fleeing from the memories of a personal tragedy from which he still hasn’t recovered (nor have many residents of the area who don’t see Lee’s return to town as a positive event), but guardianship of Patrick means either taking him away from his friends and moving him to his cramped quarters in Quincy or Lee’s returning to Manchester to see if he can restart his life there.

Director Kenneth Lonergan has written the screenplay incorporating numerous flashbacks during Lee’s shaky time in Manchester attempting to see if he can adjust to life there once again, flashbacks that fill in the backstory concerning his relationships with his brother, his nephew, his own home life with wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and three children, and his relationship with the town which all comes crumbling down along with the walls and roof of his home after a fire which he inadvertently started consumes it. These memories, some hilarious and some so wrenching that one’s heart breaks, form the core of the movie, sprinkled in among Lee’s torturous attempts to bond with his teenaged nephew, his brother’s born again ex-wife (Gretchen Mol) and her creepy new husband (Matthew Broderick), and find a way to reconcile his overwhelming sense of grief and loss with his new circumstances. While the movie runs well over two hours, none of it seems meandering or pointless, and we get so caught up in both Lee and Patrick’s stories of monumental changes and their own unique coping mechanisms that the time passes by before we know it. Director Lonergan has beautifully and lovingly shot bars and neighborhoods and marinas that give a gracious sense of time and place to the movie, and the seasonal differences we glimpse throughout mirror some of the inner workings which our two protagonists are trying so hard to push down and not deal with.

It’s a revelatory performance for Casey Affleck here. Lee is a man with raging emotions bottled up and unarticulated (he actually finds it hard to ever put his exact thoughts into words; his stammering and reticence to speak is one of the character’s most endearing traits to a viewer but most maddening to people with whom he comes into contact), but occasionally his emotions explode into physical violence, sometimes to himself and sometimes to others in the vicinity of his rage. Throughout, it’s a mesmerizing performance. Lucas Hedges’ Patrick is bubbling with hormones, juggling two girl friends, his father’s boat, places on the school basketball and hockey teams, and his lead guitar role in a band, and his performance offers the older generation a sly, spry look at what today’s teens have on their minds. Michelle Williams gets some prime moments to shine in key scenes before and after the tragedy that forever changed her life, and her final confrontation with Lee on a Manchester street is stunningly emotional and one of the great scenes in any of this year’s films. Kyle Chandler is a sturdy older brother in the flashback moments with his son and his brother, and C.J. Wilson plays the family’s best friend George with grace and thoughtfulness. Matthew Broderick and Gretchen Mol offer a very awkward picture of one kind of life Patrick might be living had events gone in another direction.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. This is a beautiful transfer capturing the sprightly spring colors and the gray, hazy winter ones in all their glory and with accurate flesh tones. Sharpness is usually quite excellent except for a few softer-looking images in over-the-shoulder shots while driving in various vehicles. Black levels are very deep in some of the few nighttime sequences, and contrast has been consistently applied throughout the presentation. The movie has been divided into 16 chapters.

Audio: 4.5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix provides the strongest surround elements with Lesley Barber’s background score and a host of classical and rock music used as accompaniment. Dialogue has been superbly recorded and has mostly been resigned to the center channel with just the trace of some directionalized dialogue during an off-screen telephone conversation early on that allows us to begin gauging Lee’s extreme emotional withdrawal. Ambient sounds are quite effective when utilized (a hockey scrimmage brings the surround channels alive, and harbor sounds likewise get some spread through the soundfield).

Special Features: 3/5

Audio Commentary: it’s called a “conversation” in the bonus features, but it’s writer-director Kenneth Lonergan in a give and take with content producer Peter Ventrella as they work their way through the film: its story, themes, performers, and production.

Emotional Lives: The Making of Manchester by the Sea (16:00, HD): writer-director Kenneth Lonergan, producers Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Kevin J. Walsh, and Chris Moore, and actors Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, and Gretchen Mol discuss the film’s depths of emotion and heartrending story.

Deleted Scenes (5:50, HD): three scenes may be played separately or in montage.

Promo Trailers (HD): Southside with You, Patriot’s Day, Indignation, La La Land, and Café Society.

DVD/Digital Copy/Ultraviolet: disc and code sheet enclosed in the case.

Overall: 4.5/5

One of the year’s most outstanding and heartrending achievements, Manchester by the Sea mixes the joys and sorrows of life in realistic measure forging one of the most emotionally powerful films seen in some time. Highly recommended!

Published by

Matt Hough

administrator

66 Comments

  1. Hey Matt!

    Excellent–as always–review. Even though I disagree with a lot of it! 😉

    My wife and I love a good character drama…so when I heard initial rumblings about this film and how great the performances were (even though the subject material was depressing), I was excited about this film.

    But we both ended up being really disappointed. The film as a whole did nothing for me. I sum it up as a study of some people who were brought together by family ties…who endured a number of tragedies in their lives…and, that's about it. For me this falls into a "slice of life" film in which there was very little growth among the protagonists and very little development of the plot.

    Affleck was okay as the wrecked character of Lee…although he came off more as just emotionless. I've never seen Casey Affleck in anything else (that I recall) so I can't really compare his performance against anything else he's done. But I'm really not seeing what the buzz is all about. The character suffered great tragedy, for sure. The scene immediately following his interview with the local police was certainly dramatic enough and gave me a context into which to place all his deep emotions from throughout the film. Affleck's study of a character who was holding in so much is the one thing I can point to as significant in the film. But not enough. And I never felt like I saw his character change in any way over the course of our time together.

    As for the story itself, I'm not getting it. To center his inner demons in the secondary story involving his nephew and the guardianship issues doesn't accomplish much for me. We watched him go through the motions of dealing with the guardianship issues (unsatisfactorily, to my mind) all at the same time having his backstory revealed as if to explain why he had his issues.

    I am, again, mystified as to why people are thinking Michelle Williams' performance here was so good…seeing as how she had so very little to do. The scene you mentioned where they ran into each other on the street, to me, seemed almost like an afterthought. I don't get what really advanced as a result of that interaction.

    On a particular note, I'm a little amused that you think the portrayal of the teen's (Lucas Hedges) life of girls, sports and rock music gives an insight to the older generation into what's on teen minds. Seems pretty time-worn to me! :laugh: I don't think things have changed too much!

    So much like this year's Lion, I am left with a film that didn't speak to me. Didn't advance much of a story…didn't grow a character, etc. I can be okay with a story in which not much happens, as long as the journey is interesting. But I didn't find this story all that interesting…or compelling.

  2. I started this with my wife; she bailed after about 15 minutes. I kept going for another 20 and then I bailed. I never could get on the inside. I always felt like I was on the outside of the glass looking in at these lives.

    Matt Hough

    It left me an emotional wreck for much of the time.

    I think ultimately that was my problem. I could feel it coming if I kept watching. Life is hard enough right now. When I have leisure time, I don't want to feel like an emotional wreck. I want to escape feeling like an emotional wreck. If I do want to feel like an emotional wreck, on purpose, I'll watch Barry Lyndon. That's the kind of emotional wipe out I can rally behind. 🙂

  3. I'm really looking forward to this when my copy arrives Tuesday. I love movies that trigger emotion and give us a slice of life. The very reasons given why some didn't like it are exactly the reasons I will like it. I recently watched Loving and thought it was utterly brilliant.

  4. Mark-P

    I'm really looking forward to this when my copy arrives Tuesday. I love movies that trigger emotion and give us a slice of life. The very reasons given why some didn't like it are exactly the reasons I will like it. I recently watched Loving and thought it was utterly brilliant.

    I think if I was in a different place in my life, I might get something out of it. I think a lot depends on timing for some folks. That's the great thing about film vs. plays (performed and never seen again). This movie will still be around in the future. I can give it a try later in life. Maybe it will speak to me then.

  5. If Viola Davis were not running in this category, and she's really not supporting anyone, Michelle Williams would win for her shattering performance. That one scene between her and Affleck is devastating. No spoilers. And Affleck's character does develop and grow. There's hope at the end. Wonderful film; a real artistic accomplishment. My second favorite film of the year, right after Moonlight.

  6. bujaki

    And Affleck's character does develop and grow. There's hope at the end. Wonderful film; a real artistic accomplishment. My second favorite film of the year, right after Moonlight.

    Definitely. Affleck is stunning in this film, as he builds so much internally with the character – I really hope he wins the Oscar because he gives such a great performance.

    I don't understand the sentiments that the characters don't change/grow and the movie doesn't end in a hopeful way. Maybe people are so conditioned to see movies with BIG CHARACTER REVELATIONS that if the film doesn't "fix" everything by the end, it doesn't register!

  7. Matt Hough

    SOrry you and your wife didn't care for it. It left me an emotional wreck for much of the time.

    No one was sorrier than us, Matt. One of our absolute favorite films is Doubt. I was so certain this particular drama was going to join our list of faves.

    And I realize we seem to be in the minority here.

    Conversely, I'm thrilled so many people are touched by this film.

  8. I was so looking forward to watching this tomorrow, but Amazon failed their promised release day delivery… again. They have absolutely no wiggle-room as they always ship at the last possible minute to get there on time. They shipped it out at 6pm Monday night and of course it didn't make it on time.

  9. Contact them and let them know, Mark.

    If nothing else you should be able to wrangle an extra month of a Prime membership–if you are, indeed, a Prime member.

    They usually are quite serious about meeting their delivery dates.

  10. Mike Frezon

    Contact them and let them know, Mark.

    If nothing else you should be able to wrangle an extra month of a Prime membership–if you are, indeed, a Prime member.

    They usually are quite serious about meeting their delivery dates.

    Yep, I'm a Prime member. When they missed their delivery date of Loving a couple weeks ago I complained and they gave me a $10 credit. I kind of hate to complain again so soon.

  11. 1.) It's not your fault.

    2.) It's a legit complaint.

    3.) They'd prefer you were happy.

    Just be sure they sent you an e-mail giving you today as the actual delivery date. I once got into a big tussle with them because even though I had pre-ordered months before a title's release they never guaranteed me release date delivery…anywhere. I didn't win. :angry:

    😀

  12. I watched an HD streaming rental of this tonight on my new 4K OLED and the picture quality was so impressive it made me seriously question the wisdom of buying blu-rays of films that seldom get watched more than twice ( and often just once!) It was razor sharp, with perfect color and zero artifacts. Since the HD master was likely the same source for the blu and the streaming version, I would have expected the blu to get a solid 5/5, since a couple of soft-focus shots ( which I didn't even notice) are the fault of the source rather than the transfer.

  13. I’m with Mike Frezon about this film – didn’t like it at all, and I’m not sure what anyone is seeing in Michelle Williams’ performance – it’s okay, all the actors are okay, but the film – not for me, I’m afraid.

  14. Mark-P

    I was so looking forward to watching this tomorrow, but Amazon failed their promised release day delivery… again. They have absolutely no wiggle-room as they always ship at the last possible minute to get there on time. They shipped it out at 6pm Monday night and of course it didn't make it on time.

    What upsets me is when they say "guaranteed delivery date" and then fail to make that date. I called and asked about the guarantee and they didn't seem to get it. If you guarantee something, that means if it doesn't happen, there should be compensation, because it was guaranteed. And there was blank silence. I suggested they simply change the language from "guaranteed" to "expected." No response. I told them that their guarantee meant nothing to me anymore and hung up.

  15. So, I watched this and really enjoyed it. There is plenty of comedy in the story that helps with the tragedy. I don't think that comedy is cute or forced either as along with the emotions portrayed it felt very genuine to me. A couple comments on things Mike says above…

    Affleck was okay as the wrecked character of Lee…although he came off more as just emotionless.

    The character is trying very hard to tamp down his emotions however Affleck attempts to let them leak through mostly in subtle ways through his eyes and body language. So, while he is obviously holding back much of the time I actually think the character is very emotional throughout the story…we as an audience can see it I believe more than the characters he interacts with who just find his distance, hesitations and awkward silences uncomfortable. One interesting moment comes when Lee arrives at the hockey rink to inform his nephew that his father has passed. In what would likely normally be a big scene in most movies (telling a family member somebody close to them has died) the director chose to play that scene as a long shot where we can watch them from the other side of the rink rather than be up close to hear what is being said. This choice I believe flows with other choices in Affleck's portrayal as we watch their body language from afar (with the other kids on the hockey team as if we too were standing there) specifically because in this film I believe the Lee character is going to be revealed to us more through his behavior than through what he says.

    I would contrast this with the scene at the opening of the film showing Lee and Patrick when he was younger on the boat. In this scene we watch what is obviously a happy moment also in a long shot where we see the scene play out in body language and we can see how in this moment it's all warmth and affection and good times…just by the physical way they are interacting. So, the director constantly puts us as the audience in situations where we are observing where these characters are emotionally though looks and body language and there is an obvious difference in the scene at the rink and the early scene on the boat. Lonergan as a director and writer I believe follows the rule that if you can avoid having the characters say it do so and have them portray it physically instead. This film is probably a really good example of that rule and the reason so many people love Affleck's work here is because it requires so much nuance and physical acting over just delivering dramatic line readings. He is very expressive in the film just not verbally.

    And I never felt like I saw his character change in any way over the course of our time together.

    I certainly feel like we see him change but not in a direct arc as the film uses a flashback structure to show him at different times in his life. So, we see him as a happy man. We see him in that opening scene on the boat with young Patrick, we see him having fun with his friends and brother and how much he loves his wife but these moments are interspersed throughout the film as flashbacks/memories. I think part of the huge tragedy in the film is that we see what a loving man he was with his friends and family and how openly affectionate he was with them but he has become this person that has now closed himself off. So, the people around him lost Lee as well because he no longer is the same man. So, I do think we see him change and that we see how he has changed is an important aspect of the story.

  16. An outstanding film! Lee wasn't emotionless, you don't have to show your emotions outwardly to be an emotional character. His silence, how he processes what's going on around him and the angry outbursts tell me he's an emotional wreck still trying to cope with life, but without the "life light" he had prior to the tragedy that tore his life apart.

  17. It is very tragic that

    Spoiler

    But it wasn't an unavoidable accident. Just as someone drinking and driving isn't an "accident", neither was this situation. A drunk driver CHOOSES to drink and ultimately drive. Society used to give drunk driver's a slap on the wrist. Now we mostly hold them responsible for their actions, whether they "intended" to run into that other car or not.

    Affleck's character doesn't get a pass from me for what he did, "accidental" or not. The "accident" explained why he was moping around and being a genuinely unlikeable guy but it doesn't excuse his behavior. He screwed up by drinking, partying, and not being careful. A decent human redeems himself by becoming a better person following self-caused tragedy, not by becoming a brooding a-hole that is completely unlikeable.

    Affleck's character was the bad guy in this film and, as such, I felt no sympathy for him.

    Mark

  18. You do realize, Mark, that one of his main issues is he has no sympathy for himself and that yeah, he too would identify himself as the "bad guy" which is why he is the way he is. He is punishing himself, putting himself in a "jail" of his own devising and he does not feel he deserves anybody's help or love. So, your take on him is essentially exactly the character's take. You have that in common with him.

  19. Mark Booth

    It is very tragic that

    Spoiler

    But it wasn't an unavoidable accident. Just as someone drinking and driving isn't an "accident", neither was this situation. A drunk driver CHOOSES to drink and ultimately drive. Society used to give drunk driver's a slap on the wrist. Now we mostly hold them responsible for their actions, whether they "intended" to run into that other car or not.

    Affleck's character doesn't get a pass from me for what he did, "accidental" or not. The "accident" explained why he was moping around and being a genuinely unlikeable guy but it doesn't excuse his behavior. He screwed up by drinking, partying, and not being careful. A decent human redeems himself by becoming a better person following self-caused tragedy, not by becoming a brooding a-hole that is completely unlikeable.

    Affleck's character was the bad guy in this film and, as such, I felt no sympathy for him.

    Mark

    And you missed that part of the character in which he would agree with you.

  20. Mark Booth

    It is very tragic that

    Spoiler

    But it wasn't an unavoidable accident. Just as someone drinking and driving isn't an "accident", neither was this situation. A drunk driver CHOOSES to drink and ultimately drive. Society used to give drunk driver's a slap on the wrist. Now we mostly hold them responsible for their actions, whether they "intended" to run into that other car or not.

    Affleck's character doesn't get a pass from me for what he did, "accidental" or not. The "accident" explained why he was moping around and being a genuinely unlikeable guy but it doesn't excuse his behavior. He screwed up by drinking, partying, and not being careful. A decent human redeems himself by becoming a better person following self-caused tragedy, not by becoming a brooding a-hole that is completely unlikeable.

    Affleck's character was the bad guy in this film and, as such, I felt no sympathy for him.

    Mark

    Wow – unforgiving much? 🙁

    Even the cops in the film stated that anyone could've made the little goof Lee made. Sometimes people make mistakes that have tragic results – that doesn't make those people evil.

    Your belief that he deserves to be viewed as a villain seems way out of proportion.

    Adding this statement to your reference to Lee as a "halfwit", I sometimes wonder if we actually saw the same film…

  21. Mark-P

    I'm really looking forward to this when my copy arrives Tuesday. I love movies that trigger emotion and give us a slice of life. The very reasons given why some didn't like it are exactly the reasons I will like it. I recently watched Loving and thought it was utterly brilliant.

    I finally got to watch my Blu-ray last night and my instincts (quoted above) were right – I loved the film. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Affleck's multi-faceted performance is a knockout. He's low-key, tortured, and genuinely trying to do the right thing. The scene near the end between him and Michelle Williams really tore me up emotionally, and that is what put it over the top to earn a 4-star rating from me.

  22. Colin Jacobson

    Even the cops in the film stated that anyone could've made the little goof Lee made. Sometimes people make mistakes that have tragic results – that doesn't make those people evil.

    I agree. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think we even see 100% that he left the fireplace grate off. He says he wasn't sure if he put it on. Guess what? I've lived in houses with fireplaces before. Sometimes, if a log decides that it's going to start rolling, it'll knock the grate down anyway. He could have done everything right and still had a bad result. If anything, that Lee made a point of walking to the store rather than driving shows that he's doing exactly what we tell people to do when they're intoxicated, exactly what we as a society say we want – he didn't drive, he walked. That to me shows that we're dealing with a guy who made a rather ordinary choice to get a little wasted while hanging with his friends at his home, not some Bond villain of epic proportions. Though it's never really talked about in the film, I don't think the kids survive if Lee doesn't go out for beer. I think if Lee doesn't go out for beer, he passes out on the couch or the floor, and he's dead too. We'll never know, and that's one of the more unbearable things about a tragedy like his – he'll tell himself for the rest of his life that if only he stayed home, they'd all be fine, but as an objective viewer, I think it's entirely possible that there just would have been one more body for the firemen to pull out of the house. I'm not really comfortable judging the totality of a person's moral existence solely on a mistake of circumstances that could have happened to anyone. I'm not saying that Lee is the most perfect person that has ever existed, but that's not the point of the story anyway.

  23. What I also find interesting is how uncomfortable many of the townfolk of Manchester were around him, and couldn't get past the guilt they attributed to him, which was why he couldn't stay there. Apparently some viewers of the film feel exactly the way the townfolk do. There's nothing wrong with that, in fact it makes the movie all that much more realistic!

  24. Mark-P

    I finally got to watch my Blu-ray last night and my instincts (quoted above) were right – I loved the film. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Affleck's multi-faceted performance is a knockout. He's low-key, tortured, and genuinely trying to do the right thing. The scene near the end between him and Michelle Williams really tore me up emotionally, and that is what put it over the top to earn a 4-star rating from me.

    Yes, that was a great scene played brilliantly by both actors.

  25. Mark-P

    What I also find interesting is how uncomfortable many of the townfolk of Manchester were around him, and couldn't get past the guilt they attributed to him, which was why he couldn't stay there.

    Maybe I'm reading the movie wrong but I took it that Michelle Williams character, in her grief, must have blamed him to anyone that would listen to her (perhaps to the point of saying that it was deliberate). Even with the facts, the accusation is so terrible that they couldn't look at the guy without wondering after that.

  26. Rob W

    I watched an HD streaming rental of this tonight on my new 4K OLED and the picture quality was so impressive it made me seriously question the wisdom of buying blu-rays of films that seldom get watched more than twice ( and often just once!) It was razor sharp, with perfect color and zero artifacts. Since the HD master was likely the same source for the blu and the streaming version, I would have expected the blu to get a solid 5/5, since a couple of soft-focus shots ( which I didn't even notice) are the fault of the source rather than the transfer.

    I had the same experience today. I liked the film, reminded me of Boyhood in a way.

  27. Josh Steinberg

    I agree. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think we even see 100% that he left the fireplace grate off. He says he wasn't sure if he put it on. Guess what? I've lived in houses with fireplaces before. Sometimes, if a log decides that it's going to start rolling, it'll knock the grate down anyway. He could have done everything right and still had a bad result. If anything, that Lee made a point of walking to the store rather than driving shows that he's doing exactly what we tell people to do when they're intoxicated, exactly what we as a society say we want – he didn't drive, he walked. That to me shows that we're dealing with a guy who made a rather ordinary choice to get a little wasted while hanging with his friends at his home, not some Bond villain of epic proportions. Though it's never really talked about in the film, I don't think the kids survive if Lee doesn't go out for beer. I think if Lee doesn't go out for beer, he passes out on the couch or the floor, and he's dead too. We'll never know, and that's one of the more unbearable things about a tragedy like his – he'll tell himself for the rest of his life that if only he stayed home, they'd all be fine, but as an objective viewer, I think it's entirely possible that there just would have been one more body for the firemen to pull out of the house. I'm not really comfortable judging the totality of a person's moral existence solely on a mistake of circumstances that could have happened to anyone. I'm not saying that Lee is the most perfect person that has ever existed, but that's not the point of the story anyway.

    Of course not – Lee is really just an average guy. Sure, he liked to party with his pals, but even that he did in a fairly responsible way: they drank in his house and as you note, when he wanted more beer, he recognized he shouldn't drive so he walked there.

    Pre-tragedy, the movie paints Lee as an affectionate, loving husband and a devoted dad and a good uncle/brother. Heck, even the reason for the fire comes from his caring nature: he couldn't turn on the central heat because it mucked with his wife's sinuses.

    If one wants, one could pick the wife as the "villain": if she'd allowed Lee to turn on the heat, the fire never would've occurred.

    But despite the claims of some people, the movie includes no "villains". Lee is a character who may have made a minor mistake that ended up in tragedy. He did nothing malicious or "wrong" – he apparently goofed and it backfired.

    It happens – that's life.

    I still can't get over the fact someone views him both as a "halfwit" and as a "villain". Neither interpretation makes the slightest lick of sense…

  28. TravisR

    Maybe I'm reading the movie wrong but I took it that Michelle Williams character, in her grief, must have blamed him to anyone that would listen to her (perhaps to the point of saying that it was deliberate). Even with the facts, the accusation is so terrible that they couldn't look at the guy without wondering after that.

    I think it's possible – maybe even likely – that Lee got a bad rep due to his self-destructive behavior post-tragedy. This is a guy who'd get into a fight at the drop of the hat, and that had to wear thin in a small community.

    IIRC, the movie doesn't tell us the total chronology, so we don't know how long Lee stayed with his wife post-tragedy, and how long he stayed in Manchester as well.

    It's clearly been at least 2-3 years since the tragedy – his ex-wife is now married and pregnant, so there has to have been s a decent amount of time since the tragedy. That left lots of time for Lee to act out in ways that would upset the locals and give him a bad reputation…

  29. TravisR

    Maybe I'm reading the movie wrong but I took it that Michelle Williams character, in her grief, must have blamed him to anyone that would listen to her (perhaps to the point of saying that it was deliberate). Even with the facts, the accusation is so terrible that they couldn't look at the guy without wondering after that.

    I think it's possible – maybe even likely – that Lee got a bad rep due to his self-destructive behavior post-tragedy. This is a guy who'd get into a fight at the drop of the hat, and that had to wear thin in a small community.

    IIRC, the movie doesn't tell us the total chronology, so we don't know how long Lee stayed with his wife post-tragedy, and how long he stayed in Manchester as well.

    It's clearly been at least 2-3 years since the tragedy – his ex-wife is now married and pregnant, so there has to have been s a decent amount of time since the tragedy. That left lots of time for Lee to act out in ways that would upset the locals and give him a bad reputation…

  30. TravisR

    Maybe I'm reading the movie wrong but I took it that Michelle Williams character, in her grief, must have blamed him to anyone that would listen to her (perhaps to the point of saying that it was deliberate). Even with the facts, the accusation is so terrible that they couldn't get around their suspicion.

    Oh, no. This is what makes the movie a success. It elicits different visceral reactions from different people. Some feel empathy, others feel anger. Even though in the eyes of the law, he was proclaimed innocent, some people don't feel that was right. They see it as criminal negligence, and thus you have a movie that makes you think. Which is correct? Who can say?

    Robert Crawford

    Yes, that was a great scene played brilliantly by both actors.

    Sorry to ramble, but as I said I can't stop thinking about this film. One thing that gave that scene such impact is

    Spoiler
  31. TravisR

    Maybe I'm reading the movie wrong but I took it that Michelle Williams character, in her grief, must have blamed him to anyone that would listen to her (perhaps to the point of saying that it was deliberate). Even with the facts, the accusation is so terrible that they couldn't get around their suspicion.

    Oh, no. This is what makes the movie a success. It elicits different visceral reactions from different people. Some feel empathy, others feel anger. Even though in the eyes of the law, he was proclaimed innocent, some people don't feel that was right. They see it as criminal negligence, and thus you have a movie that makes you think. Which is correct? Who can say?

    Robert Crawford

    Yes, that was a great scene played brilliantly by both actors.

    Sorry to ramble, but as I said I can't stop thinking about this film. One thing that gave that scene such impact is

    Spoiler
  32. Colin Jacobson

    It's clearly been at least 2-3 years since the tragedy – his ex-wife is now married and pregnant, so there has to have been s a decent amount of time since the tragedy. That left lots of time for Lee to act out in ways that would upset the locals and give him a bad reputation…

    It's been longer than that as his father's grave stone said he died in 2009, he was alive when the tragedy happened and his brother's grave stone stated he died in 2015. So it's probably been more like 6-7 years.

  33. Mark-P

    What I also find interesting is how uncomfortable many of the townfolk of Manchester were around him, and couldn't get past the guilt they attributed to him, which was why he couldn't stay there. Apparently some viewers of the film feel exactly the way the townfolk do. There's nothing wrong with that, in fact it makes the movie all that much more realistic!

    Your last sentence is very true. And, even though I didn't care for the film, I have to say that Casey Affleck definitely deserves to win a statue tomorrow night. He did a great job of playing someone that I didn't like. He became the character and the fact that I didn't like the character doesn't lessen his skill as an actor.

    Mark

  34. Robert Crawford

    It's been longer than that as his father's grave stone said he died in 2009, he was alive when the tragedy happened and his brother's grave stone stated he died in 2015. So it's probably been more like 6-7 years.

    At least that much time. Patrick is stated to be 16 years old in the "current" time line and while his age isn't given in the flashbacks, he appears to be 8 to 10 years old.

  35. Robert Crawford

    It's been longer than that as his father's grave stone said he died in 2009, he was alive when the tragedy happened and his brother's grave stone stated he died in 2015. So it's probably been more like 6-7 years.

    Thanks – I didn't pick up on that!

  36. Mark-P

    At least that much time. Patrick is stated to be 16 years old in the "current" time line and while his age isn't given in the flashbacks, he appears to be 8 to 10 years old.

    I didn't use Patrick's age as a gauge of chronology because it's not clear – to me, at least – where those "Lee, Patrick and Joe on the boat" flashbacks come in the movie's time.

    They could've been right around the time of the tragedy or they could've been years earlier – I don't recall any firm indicator how they connect to other events in the movie…

  37. Colin Jacobson

    I didn't use Patrick's age as a gauge of chronology because it's not clear – to me, at least – where those "Lee, Patrick and Joe on the boat" flashbacks come in the movie's time.

    They could've been right around the time of the tragedy or they could've been years earlier – I don't recall any firm indicator how they connect to other events in the movie…

    He looked to be around 8-9 years old when Lee left and moved into his new apartment in Boston, when Joe bought him some furniture for it.

  38. Robert Crawford

    He looked to be around 8-9 years old when Lee left and moved into his new apartment in Boston, when Joe bought him some furniture for it.

    Good point. I obviously didn't pay a lot of attention to these chronological issues when I watched the movie! 🙂

  39. I think this is a great movie. Sad.

    Casey Affleck really is fantastic, especially in the last quarter of the film.
    Tortured soul. posture, mannerisms…he nails it.

    I would like to say Lee grows beyond the tragedy at some point and gets well. But I think the enormous guilt in reflection to his character has forever ruined him.

  40. Colin Jacobson

    Wow – unforgiving much? 🙁

    Even the cops in the film stated that anyone could've made the little goof Lee made. Sometimes people make mistakes that have tragic results – that doesn't make those people evil.

    Your belief that he deserves to be viewed as a villain seems way out of proportion.

    Adding this statement to your reference to Lee as a "halfwit", I sometimes wonder if we actually saw the same film…

    Maybe my life experiences are different than yours and we each have those to "color" or perception of other people's behavior?

    Me, I grew up with an alcoholic father and, later, an alcoholic stepfather. Even at a very young age I figured out that those two men lived out of a bottle because they had miserable upbringings themselves. They felt unloved and acted out when they were children and that continued into adulthood. They NEVER, not once, accepted responsibility for their actions. My stepfather even hit a kid on a bike with his car while driving drunk. The kid wasn't seriously injured, thank God, but even when he was sober my stepfather never accepted or admitted his share of responsibility, it was always 100% the kid's fault. I somehow was smart enough to realize that taking that kind of path was a path to self-ruin. But I also learned to greatly dislike people that don't take responsibility for their own actions. Personal honor, if you will. They were both mean drunks too, so I learned to greatly dislike people that bully other people.

    Both of them went through life feeling sorry for themselves, which usually made them unpleasant to be around even when they were sober. The proverbial glass was always half empty, it was always somebody else's fault for any given situation, they refused to man up and take responsibility, man up and do the decent and right thing. Treat others with respect. Live life as the gift it truly is.

    I broke the chain. There was no way that I was going to turn out like either one of them. Personal honor is very important to me. Too many in our society lack it these days.

    So, my life experience set me up to dislike Affleck's character. I could have forgiven him for what he accidentally did *if* he didn't take his pain out on others. He screwed up and then turned into an a-hole. And I felt so strongly about it that it ruined my ability to enjoy the film (but I did give it 3 out of 5 stars).

    Mark

  41. Mark Booth

    Maybe my life experiences are different than yours and we each have those to "color" or perception of other people's behavior?

    Me, I grew up with an alcoholic father and, later, an alcoholic stepfather. Even at a very young age I figured out that those two men lived out of a bottle because they had miserable upbringings themselves. They felt unloved and acted out when they were children and that continued into adulthood. They NEVER, not once, accepted responsibility for their actions. My stepfather even hit a kid on a bike with his car while driving drunk. The kid wasn't seriously injured, thank God, but even when he was sober my stepfather never accepted or admitted his share of responsibility, it was always 100% the kid's fault. I somehow was smart enough to realize that taking that kind of path was a path to self-ruin. But I also learned to greatly dislike people that don't take responsibility for their own actions. Personal honor, if you will. They were both mean drunks too, so I learned to greatly dislike people that bully other people.

    Both of them went through life feeling sorry for themselves, which usually made them unpleasant to be around even when they were sober. The proverbial glass was always half empty, it was always somebody else's fault for any given situation, they refused to man up and take responsibility, man up and do the decent and right thing. Treat others with respect. Live life as the gift it truly is.

    I broke the chain. There was no way that I was going to turn out like either one of them. Personal honor is very important to me. Too many in our society lack it these days.

    So, my life experience set me up to dislike Affleck's character. I could have forgiven him for what he accidentally did *if* he didn't take his pain out on others. He screwed up and then turned into an a-hole. And I felt so strongly about it that it ruined my ability to enjoy the film (but I did give it 3 out of 5 stars).

    Mark

    Fair enough. Thanks for the added perspective!

    Still not sure why you think Lee is mentally deficient/disabled, though…

  42. Mark Booth

    Maybe my life experiences are different than yours and we each have those to "color" or perception of other people's behavior?

    Me, I grew up with an alcoholic father and, later, an alcoholic stepfather. Even at a very young age I figured out that those two men lived out of a bottle because they had miserable upbringings themselves. They felt unloved and acted out when they were children and that continued into adulthood. They NEVER, not once, accepted responsibility for their actions. My stepfather even hit a kid on a bike with his car while driving drunk. The kid wasn't seriously injured, thank God, but even when he was sober my stepfather never accepted or admitted his share of responsibility, it was always 100% the kid's fault. I somehow was smart enough to realize that taking that kind of path was a path to self-ruin. But I also learned to greatly dislike people that don't take responsibility for their own actions. Personal honor, if you will. They were both mean drunks too, so I learned to greatly dislike people that bully other people.

    Both of them went through life feeling sorry for themselves, which usually made them unpleasant to be around even when they were sober. The proverbial glass was always half empty, it was always somebody else's fault for any given situation, they refused to man up and take responsibility, man up and do the decent and right thing. Treat others with respect. Live life as the gift it truly is.

    I broke the chain. There was no way that I was going to turn out like either one of them. Personal honor is very important to me. Too many in our society lack it these days.

    So, my life experience set me up to dislike Affleck's character. I could have forgiven him for what he accidentally did *if* he didn't take his pain out on others. He screwed up and then turned into an a-hole. And I felt so strongly about it that it ruined my ability to enjoy the film (but I did give it 3 out of 5 stars).

    Mark

    Good post. But I strongly disagree with the statement that Lee just "turned into an asshole" after the tragedy. I think the film makes it very clear that because of his guilt, and his character– he is transformed into a tortured soul because of his actions That led to the loss.
    So unhappy and even deserving of life in his opinion that his life has just turned into a miserable wreck. He will never let himself be forgiven. Misery at that level is never fun to be around.

    And that is the thing that sticks with me about 'Manchester By The Sea' I was expecting a glimmer of hope after all the pain that the character endured, but in the end
    Lee was truly a lost cause.

  43. Mark Booth

    So, my life experience set me up to dislike Affleck's character. I could have forgiven him for what he accidentally did *if* he didn't take his pain out on others. He screwed up and then turned into an a-hole. And I felt so strongly about it that it ruined my ability to enjoy the film (but I did give it 3 out of 5 stars).http://www.treknews.net/2017/02/02/why-ds9-voyager-not-on-blu-ray-hd/

    Mark

    That's where I don't follow you. The only times in the movie that he was an a-hole was when he got drunk in the bar and the alcohol caused him to become paranoid and think that people were talking about him. All other times he bent over backwards trying to be humble and to atone for his past.

  44. Mark-P

    That's where I don't follow you. The only times in the movie that he was an a-hole was when he got drunk in the bar and the alcohol caused him to become paranoid and think that people were talking about him. All other times he bent over backwards trying to be humble and to atone for his past.

    I don't know what to tell you. I spent a good portion of the film feeling like Affleck's character was a slowwitted brooding depressive a-hole. There's no need for you to follow. It is what it is.

    If it makes you feel any better, Affleck is my pick for Best Actor in a Leading Role tonight.

    Mark

  45. Bryan^H

    And that is the thing that sticks with me about 'Manchester By The Sea' I was expecting a glimmer of hope after all the pain that the character endured, but in the end
    Lee was truly a lost cause.

    I disagree with that – I feel like the movie did end with a glimmer of hope.

    When the movie begins and Lee first returns to his hometown, he just wants out, and he's happy to throw Patrick to anyone who might take him. Over the movie, we see Lee make small attempts at being a person again, and sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't. That Lee stays for the rest of the school year so Patrick can keep some sense of normalcy was difficult for Lee, and he clearly wasn't interested in the idea at the beginning of the movie, but he does it anyway.

    I think, more than anything, he couldn't stay in that town. Not with him feeling like the entire town was shunning him behind his back (which many of them were in fact doing). He couldn't live somewhere where randomly bumping into his ex-wife was a daily possibility. At the same time, he recognizes that Patrick needs to stay – so instead of thoughtlessly yanking him away, he helps set up a situation that gives Patrick the best chance at a normal life, doing the things that Patrick always thought he would be doing growing up.

    I think it's really important that Lee made a point of getting a new job and a new two bedroom apartment, so that Patrick would always have a place with him. To me, that shows that Lee grows as a character and that he's not a lost cause. If he was a lost cause, he would have either yanked Patrick away without considering the boy's feelings because he was someone who didn't care (and he does show through his ultimate choice that he does care), and especially by getting a place with an extra room.

    To me, at the end of the movie, Lee is finally taking his first steps towards healing, but as part of that, he knows for sure that he can't go home again. He cuts his ties from the place, but not from Patrick. If you were to ask me what the movie was about, I'd answer that it's about learning to be a person again in the face of unbearable tragedy. And if you asked me what feeling I left the theater with, I'd say "hope".

  46. I have no doubt Lee will continue to let Patrick in his life.
    But my impression is that the interaction between the two will be pretty much the same as the course of the movie.

    Friendly, but that's it.

    As far as Lee ever becoming a happy individual with a new girlfriend, or wife again…no. I don't think that will ever happen, that is why I referred to the character as a lost cause.

    Of course each viewer can take from the film whatever they feel is right as there is no definitive conclusion. That makes the film all the more powerful in my opinion.

  47. All the people that felt hopeful watching Manchester should watch the HBO series The Leftovers. That show has people living in misery so when the periodic good thing happens to them, it does feel very uplifting.

  48. Bryan^H

    And that is the thing that sticks with me about 'Manchester By The Sea' I was expecting a glimmer of hope after all the pain that the character endured, but in the end
    Lee was truly a lost cause.

    100% disagree. Lee at the end of the movie was definitely different than Lee at the beginning. The boat scene establishes that – no way the Lee from the beginning would've let Patrick keep the boat, much less gone with him to enjoy a day on the sea.

    "Manchester" and "Moonlight" are similar in that both have "happy endings" but they're not big, whoop-di-do wrap-up-everything-with-a-bow-and-have-a-party happy endings.

    I don't mind the traditional "Hollywood Ending" but I like when a movie does something different and gives us a smaller, less obvious finale.

    "Manchester" ends on a positive note that points toward Lee's further re-entrance to the world of the living. Not sure what more anyone would want – he's not a "lost cause" at all…

  49. TravisR

    All the people that felt hopeful watching Manchester should watch the HBO series The Leftovers. That show has people living in misery so when the periodic good thing happens to them, it does feel very uplifting.

    Apples/oranges. "Manchester" takes place in the real world, not one in which a mysterious cataclysmic event has occurred…

  50. Colin Jacobson

    Apples/oranges. "Manchester" takes place in the real world, not one in which a mysterious cataclysmic event has occurred…

    Sure but I see the parallel between the two because something so horrible has happened to the characters that when you do get to the positive, it feels like a huge win for them and the viewer.

  51. Colin Jacobson

    "Manchester" and "Moonlight" are similar in that both have "happy endings" but they're not big, whoop-di-do wrap-up-everything-with-a-bow-and-have-a-party happy endings.

    I don't mind the traditional "Hollywood Ending" but I like when a movie does something different and gives us a smaller, less obvious finale.

    "Manchester" ends on a positive note that points toward Lee's further re-entrance to the world of the living. Not sure what more anyone would want – he's not a "lost cause" at all...

    Over the years, Hollywood has programmed many of us into wanting everything wrap up a nice bow with an obvious happy ending. Though, not similar in nature, La La Land did not end up with such an ending and there were some people not satisfied with that film's ending. Lee is taking small baby steps into rejoining the human race. It's exactly the type of pace a person in real life would have to overcome a similar tragedy. It's going to take many years and those old wounds will never heal, but in time. hopefully, he'll learn to live with that tragedy and get some enjoyment out of life. Perhaps, it would only be through his nephew, but at least it's something.

  52. Colin Jacobson

    "Manchester" ends on a positive note that points toward Lee's further re-entrance to the world of the living. Not sure what more anyone would want – he's not a "lost cause" at all…

    That is your opinion, not mine.

  53. Bryan^H

    That is your opinion, not mine.

    I'm thinking Lee's nephew will just remain as busy as ever, and visit Lee seldomly. Lee won't be Patrick's project to save, even if he cares the world for his uncle. "I can't beat it". Those words uttered by Lee to Patrick is the most telling scene in the movie.
    I think Lee will continue to be a working, "lost" soul that has no enjoyment of life. He will work, retire, and die saddled with the enormous guilt of the tragedy, and never let anyone get too close to him again.

    Again, that is what I took from the movie. If you think he does a 180, and becomes a happy member of the human race again, remarries, has more kids, Then that is what you took from it. There is no right or wrong here.

    I never claimed that any of what you wrote in the last paragraph would happen. I have no idea how far Lee's "rehabilitation" will go.

    But I continue to assert that references to Lee as a "lost cause" are off-base because the ending shows he's not "beyond redemption".

    Whether he continues to engage in society or he "relapses", the simple fact he showed signs of emergence from his depression demonstrate he's not a "lost cause".

    An actual "lost cause" would've ended the film exactly where he began…

  54. Bryan^H

    Again, that is what I took from the movie. If you think he does a 180, and becomes a happy member of the human race again, remarries, has more kids, Then that is what you took from it. There is no right or wrong here.

    Nobody is saying that, but take what you want from this film.

  55. I rather took the middle ground on this film, finding it a good film in many ways, but below the level of many of the reviews that I read last fall. (This is pretty much how I left about all of the films nominated this year–good but not great. No Lawrence here!)

    Manchester suffers from not being very cinematic of course, with dull photography and editing, and not much of a musical score.

    I do think that the film is honest about life by not showing an emotionally satisfying growth arc and conclusion. It is more tentative that we would like. A good screenplay however but with too many understated choices in the execution.

    We do see some growth and reason to hope for redemption, it is just taking time. I do wonder what Lee's future, especially with his nephew, will be like. I certainly wanted him to embrace the responsibility his brother left him and hope that he will do so to some degree. Lee needs more love and respect than he is getting.

    Our favorite this year was the very old-fashioned Hidden Figures btw.

  56. I actually know a girl(graduated high school a few years behind me) that lost her 2 children in a fire caused by portable heater. She was straight as an arrow in high school, good grades, nice etc. After the accident she got a divorce, and has become a full blown heroin addict. Last time I heard she nearly died after an overdose. That is real life.
    Often times there is no happy ending after a tragedy.

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