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Manchester by the Sea

October 29th, 2018   |   Updated on December 28th, 2018

After the death of his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is shocked to learn that Joe has made him sole guardian of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Taking leave of his job, Lee reluctantly returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea to care for Patrick, a spirited 16-year-old, and is forced to deal with a past that separated him from his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and the community where he was born and raised. Bonded by the man who held their family together, Lee and Patrick struggle to adjust to a world without him.

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Movie Reviews: Manchester By The Sea

Movie Review: Boston Guide


So I won’t tell you that I’ve seen “Manchester by the Sea” twice now and both times felt haunted for weeks. I won’t tell you it made me cry, because if you see it and you don’t cry you’ll probably think more about that than about the movie, and that’s not fair. I won’t tell you that it’s a ghost story about a man who’s still alive, or that it’s profanely funny about the way that men in New England traditionally profess their love for one another, i.e. with bitter sarcasm and foul language.

The sadness of “Manchester by the Sea” is the kind of sadness that makes you feel more alive, rather than less, to the preciousness of things.

Just remember you heard somewhere that “Manchester by the Sea” is an experience worth having, not for the magnificence of its impact or the far-flung grandeur of its settings but for the way it illuminates with quiet, unyielding grace how you and I and our neighbors get by, and sometimes how we don’t.

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Movie Review: San Francisco Chronicle


Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan (“Margaret”), “Manchester by the Sea” breaks the usual rules of storytelling. Other movies about tragedy are ultimately about overcoming tragedy, and if not about recovery then at least about getting through it and on to some kind of meaningful existence. That’s an approach that satisfies the demands of drama, the expectation that a protagonist grow and change and move forward.

But mostly, this is a sad film, and sometimes a frustrating one, as our frustration with the character spills over into frustration at the movie itself. Affleck is magnificent, but the movie is something less than that, because it can’t completely overcome some built-in challenges. Even so, “Manchester by the Sea” deserves honors for being so different, and for working on the mind in a particular way: To remember this film, days later, doesn’t feel like remembering a movie. It feels like remembering actual people you once knew.

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Movie Review: San Diago Reader

Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s masterful Manchester by the Sea, which tells the story of a penitent exile who is asked to give up both his penance and his exile, falls into the third category. And it does so without a hint of bravado or flourish, except perhaps for a single devastating scene between the exile (Casey Affleck) and his ex-wife (Michelle Williams). But even there, everything is earned and nothing is wasted in service to anything beyond the characters themselves.

It’s Affleck’s movie to quietly own as layer upon layer of Irish impassivity is stripped away from his visage until the unspeakable can be spoken.

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Movie Review: Reel Views


Manchester by the Sea is about mood, acting, character, and dialogue. It’s not about narrative (at least not in the conventional sense) or action. Those in search of an escape from the daily grind of life won’t find it here. Manchester by the Sea plunges the viewer deep into Lee’s world of monotony and pointlessness. Then, like peeling away the layers of an onion, it reveals how he got where he is and offers a path forward. There’s a kind of hope at the end, not of the “happily ever after” variety but something more believable and, therefore, more satisfying.

It’s not cinematic fast food. If you want superficial entertainment, Manchester by the Sea will disappoint. This is for those who crave a deeper experience.

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