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Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea

First I will apologize if this all seems a little incohesive but I wanted to give my full thoughts on Manchester by the Sea and this was the best I could do with that. So here are my thoughts.

What struck me on my third watch was just how the story unfolds. We see Lee as a handyman, as a man who is broken and has pent up rage. We don't see why until later. For a film that plays at the heartstrings of its viewers, it's a bold beginning. Then he gets the call and we begin to figure out the pieces to the puzzle. Some of the music at the beginning is pretty poetic too. It helps to make us feel at ease with a very tense situation, if that makes any sense.

Manchester doesn't hold anything back. It's real life situations often feel super dramatic but these are things that can and often do take place in people's lives unfortunately. Hospitals aren't a fun place to be and the film shows the brutal reality of that. The flashback scene with Lee in the elevator shows us just how bad these experiences can be.

The cast is something that I really think is a strongpoint to the film. Obviously with the writing and screenplay being a major force it wasn't necessarily imperative to have completely stellar performances for the film to work, but it's strong performances are what in my opinion is able to take the film to the next level.

The main core of what makes the film so great is Casey Afflecks performance. He completely turns into his character, a trait not often seen in film. Every time he is brought into a flashback scenes, he transforms his character to have the perfect emotion of that particular timeframe. This may be the best film ever in terms of flashback scenes (Signs is another that comes to mind ).

Michelle Williams performance is also stellar in this film in my opinion, perhaps so much that I would have preferred her to win the Oscar for her very brief screen time. But she packs a punch with each and every scene she is in. As a couple the two once had everything someone would want in life and it is completely heartbreaking to see their world end up shattering. She played her role perfectly. The scene where she asks Lee to get some lunch is perhaps one of the better acted scenes that I have ever seen.

Lucas Hedges comes across as a very sterotypical late teen who is at a crossroads with his life. I love the humor that he brings, giving the film a little bit of lightness in a very heavy film. I compared the two in a previous review, but I think Hedges is very on par with the performance of Shailene Woodley in The Descendants. The two characters are comparable because of their age and what they have been through.

In previous watches I've always brought up how I enjoy Kara Hayward in general. She doesn't necessarily do anything spectacular in the film but she certainly has potential to be a future star. Kyle Chandler is real good in the flashback roles, and Gretchen Mol as Elise was very good in the few scenes that she had.

It's great to see the chemistry between Hedges and Afflecks characters. In the flashbacks we see that the two had a pretty big bond when Hedges was little and we can see that naturally before the tragic event the two had grown apart from each other. Lee being shell shocked as to being the guardian of Patrick comes off as real genuine. With a situation like this I would guess that perhaps a decision like this may have been made in the same timeframe when Patrick was little and they were fishing on the boat. The "I'm just a back up" scene was truly great acting which helped to symbolize just what feelings Lee had about the situation. Which leads into perhaps the best yet most devastating flashback scene of the entire film, "The Furnace scene", which absolutely tore me apart. It showed me the fragility of life and the reason to never take any moments of life for granted. Perhaps one of the saddest scenes in film history for me. Again, Affleck and Williams emotions were just completely on point and made the scene even that much more impactful. It made me think about how situations like this happen everyday unfortunately to all sorts of people.

Back to Hedges and Affleck, we see the two struggling with how to proceed with life. Both are affected completely tragic circumstances (for Affleck, two circumstances), but they both know deep down they have to lean on each other. I love how they banter back and forth and give each other crap. Lots of underrated dialogue like Affleck telling him to wear gloves with actual fingers on it and a real winter coat. Or Hedges telling him he can't obey his orders until he unlocks the door. Or when the two are talking about Patrick's girlfriends in the car. Funny when Patrick says they don't just play computer games. Another good one: Patrick "What happened to your hand?" Lee "I cut it". Patrick "Oh, for a minute there I didn't know what happened". It's great writing.

Speaking of the writing and the dialogue, the backbone of the films success for me still is the result of Lonergan's impeccable work. The screenplay and the weaving of the story and flashbacks is put into a perfect sequence which tugs at the heartstrings of its viewers. The direction and the attention to detail that Lonergan gives us is truly remarkable. He has a lot of beautiful scenery shots of the Manchester area and neighborhood as well, giving it a very homely feel to it.

I like how the films ending gives us a positive outlook on Patrick and Lee for the future. For a film that is rather bleak, the light at the end of the tunnel was the right way for the film to end. I'd like to think that the two grew even closer as time went on, and that the two were able to somewhat move on with each other's lives. Obviously Lee is forever haunted by the events that have transpired in his life, but his relationship with Patrick is something that can help him carry on.

Obviously the film has had a profound effect on me. I know its heavy substance is not something that would be for everyone, but as far as storytelling and the realistic preview of life tragedies, this one is perfection in my book.