MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
* * * *
(Poignant tale of personal challenges)
Many people tell me that they go to the movies to escape the realities of life. They want to forget their problems, laugh, and escape into a fantasy world.
"Manchester by the Sea" is not the movie for them. It is, however, a must-see movie for adults who want to be intellectually and emotionally challenged.
Set in working class Boston and a small fishing town to the north, the movie deals with real people with real problems, all facing challenges in the best way they know how.
At the center of the story is Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a divorced man working as a custodian in a working class Boston apartment building. Lee is an introverted loner with a quick temper who seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders.
A phone call summons him back to his family home in Manchester to deal with a death in the family and a fatherless teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges). The old Thomas Wolfe adage about not being able to go home again is front and center in Lee's mind.
Well into the movie we learn of a terrible tragedy that ends his marriage and influences him in leaving his boyhood home and family behind. He is now faced with the possibility of being guardian for his nephew, who has problems of his own.
While I found Lee to be a tragic figure, similar to the Bible's Job, unlike Joyce, I could not feel any sympathy for his nephew, who I saw as a manipulator and abuser of women and anyone who got in his way. Sure, there are reasons for his negative behavior, as there are reasons for Lee's withdrawal from life. The movie reveals them and intimately shows how they deal with them.
In spite of pathos and tragedy, there is hope, and that is what keeps you rooting for Lee and, in Joyce's case, his nephew. There is even some humor in the movie, which is beautifully filmed, edited and acted.
As usual, we enjoyed seeing this one at the Avon, where folks gather in the lobby after the movie to discuss how the movie affected them.
Note: Watch quickly for some faces you may recognize. The first person you see in the movie is Trinity/Gamm actor Richard Donnely, who plays a tenant arguing with Affleck over his plumbing ability. (Donnely happens to be a plumber in addition to his acting skills).
The scene shifts to a local bar where Affleck's Lee gets in a fight with Gamm Artistic Director Tony Estrella, who takes a punch right in the face.
Later in the movie, R.I. actor/director Wendy Overly, who also serves as dialect coach, plays a secretary. Ginny Loring and other locals also have small parts and background scenes.
Rated R, for much profanity, some sexual scenes, and a mature look at some immature people.