Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

My Review of Manchester by the Sea

Leave a comment

manchester-by-the-seaManchester by the Sea, rated R
***

This film is written and directed by two-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Lonergan, and has been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards. It stars Oscar nominee Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler. He is an angry and withdrawn loner living in a tiny basement apartment in Boston, where he works as a janitor and handyman. He is depressed, drinks too much and tends to get into fights with strangers in bars.

The film uses constant flashbacks to tell the story. We find out that he once led a content life with wife Randi (three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams) and three children. His entire family – father, brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) and nephew lived in Manchester, Massachusetts on Cape Ann. Lee enjoyed spending time with his brother Joe and his son. But then something terrible happened, and it changed Lee and Randi forever. Joe supports Lee when it seems that nobody else does.  But then Joe, who suffers from congestive heart failure, dies as a result of a heart attack, and Lee’s life is shattered again.

Joe had a 16-year old son Patrick (Lucas Hedges from Moonrise Kingdom).  Patrick’s mother Elise (Gretchen Mol) is a drug addict, and hasn’t been a part of the family for some time. As a result, Joe’s wishes in his will are that his troubled brother would move back to Manchester to look after his son if anything should happen to him. This revelation adds shock to Lee’s grief over his brother’s death. Manchester is a hard place for him to return to.

Lee is ill-equipped to parent the popular and socially active Patrick, who plays in a rock band, is a member of a hockey team and has two girlfriends Sandy (Anna Baryshnikov, daughter of Mikhail) and Silvie (Kara Hayward who starred with Hedges in Moonrise Kingdom), neither of which know Patrick is seeing the other.  C.J. Wilson portrays Lee’s good friend George.

We see Lee and Patrick both dealing with the loss of a loved brother and father.  In many ways their relationship is more of an older and younger brother rather than an uncle and son. They argue often, and we see Lee make poor choices in being permissive with Patrick and his girlfriends. We see that Elise, Patrick’s mother has changed, as she is now engaged to Jeffrey (Matthew Broderick), a Christian. The scene with Mathew Broderick was one of the most awkward that you will see in a film.  Brilliantly acted!

We enter into the grief of Lee and Patrick as they try to move forward; Lee is forced to confront his demons. It is also a film about family, the ties that bind us to our hometown, and about forgiveness. The film also includes some humor, but overall it was emotionally exhausting.

The film is rated R for excessive adult language, including numerous abuses of God’s and Jesus’ names, sexuality, violence and adult themes.  It included frequent use of the F-Bomb as a noun, verb, adjective, etc.   It features strong acting performances and makes good use of beautiful music and lovely scenery. Casey Affleck may win the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Lee.  Michelle Williams turns in a strong performance in a small role as Randi, and is worthy of a fourth Oscar nomination. In addition, Lucas Hedges is very good as Patrick.

My 3-star rating for the film is based on the strong acting performances. It won’t be a film for everyone. It is emotionally draining, has excessive adult language and some sexuality.

Advertisements

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 37 years, a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 50 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and Colossians 3:23 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s