Tearjerker Tuesday: Manchester By the Sea

A.K.A The Epitome of Tearjerker Tuesdays

This two-time Oscar-winning film by director Kenneth Lonergan tells the tale of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) who has to return to his old hometown to look after his brother’s son following his early death. Returning home means resurrecting dark memories that he must grapple with while simultaneously coping with the loss of his brother.

This movie is bleak. I know there was a lot of hype surrounding it, as everyone agreed it was a sad movie, but they really weren’t kidding. Still, regardless of how sad and dark it is, it is a beautiful story. The acting potential of Lucas Hedges who plays the brother’s son, Patrick, is incredible and Affleck (although shrouded in controversy) does give an emotionally stirring performance. Even Michelle Williams has this incredible breakdown moment that really made me tear up for a second. But she’s a four time Oscar nominee and she’s utterly incredible in emotional moments, so I wasn’t the least surprised.

Manchester is an incredible backdrop. It  looks beautifully grey at times and strangely vibrant in other scenes. They also do a fantastic job of realistically portraying the people who occupy it. I’m from Massachusetts and I always find it funny that it takes me a while to realize how thick the accents are, and these are some thick accents (in true Affleck fashion). Still, it doesn’t detract from the performances at all and they all sound natural within their environment. Everyone seems very realistic, even though they are put through emotionally trying and devastating situations.

The chemistry between Lee and Patrick is so natural, as they help each other heal in their own Boston way (it includes swearing at each oner a lot). Still Lonergan has written the characters, the situations, and the emotions in such a raw and natural way that you can’t help but empathize with them. He has created natural characters who are deeply flawed, emotionally damaged, but real people who have experienced terrible things. Even though Lee isn’t a likable guy, all of his anger is rooted in grief and once the story unfolds, he becomes so much more of a tragic figure.

I think what I like most about this film is that it isn’t a typical Hollywood film. It didn’t have a bright and happy end (or middle…or beginning….) but it offered a actual ending that was still strangely satisfying. Was it what I expected? No. Were there any real conclusions reached or overarching questions answered? No. But it just felt right. It felt like life. I don’t know what it was but I must say the final shot is breathtaking in its own way.

No matter what, keep tissues at the ready, because I can pretty much guarantee you’re going to use them.

Amy’s Recommendation: 9/10

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