FILM REVIEW: Manchester by the Sea
Lovely but oh, so sad. It took courage to make this film
It took courage to make this film. Some years ago director Kenneth Lonergan was hailed as a new master; then followed artistic silence for too long. Now, with Casey Affleck’s best actor Golden Globe, and the buzzy nominations and celebrities, the original judgment could prove prophetic.
Lee Chandler (Affleck), is a Boston janitor with zero life. He’s an inner outcast and, though intelligent, is crushed by a dreadful event he cannot “get past”.
The film is what it is: beautiful, inexpressibly sad
The narrative is not sequential and continuity wavers. But the basis is there — Manchester is an idyllic fishing village some way from where Lee works in south Boston. His ex-wife, Randi (Michelle Williams), still lives there, but she was asleep in the house where he had a small but (to him) unforgivable part in setting the fire that killed his lovely daughters.
The police exonerate him. Abruptly, he learns that his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has died of a heart attack and made him guardian of his son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges).
The film is what it is: beautiful, inexpressibly sad. It is lustrous, yet burdened by Lee’s seizures of remorse. The crisp, gritty accents, wit and lusts of the community — not least the children — devour almost any promise of deliverance.