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Manchester By The Sea Review

Updated on February 23, 2017
Joseph Lawrence profile image

Joseph (24) grew up in the New York area and is a recent college grad in Film Studies. He is a huge film/TV buff and enjoys discussing them.

Manchester By The Sea is a family drama directed by Kenneth Lonergan and stars Casey Affleck (Lee Chandler), Lucas Hedges (Patrick Chandler), Kyle Chandler (Joseph Chandler), and Michelle Williams (Randi). The film follows Lee as he rebuilds his life after a tragic accident that occurred in his past. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and was heavily praised.

The film focuses on the protagonist Lee Chandler and cuts back and forth between the present and the past. Present Lee Chandler is a moody and quiet man haunted by his past decisions and regrets. Past Lee Chandler is a family oriented man who is happily married with two children. The story jumps between these two parallels through flashbacks and cutaways. This enables the film to not be overly depressing or cheerful offering an interesting contrast in tone.

Despite the tone of the film, the canvas-like cinematography paints the town of Manchester-by-the-sea brilliantly. The bright blues of the sky and ocean, and the clear whites of the snow are pleasing to the eye. Everything is simple and clean. Nothing distracts from the interesting and engaging story.

The charm of the film comes from the homegrown feeling and atmosphere the movie gives off. I couldn't believe that Casey did not want to do a Boston accent. Although the most ridiculed accent, the Boston accent in the film gives it its charm and uniqueness. Arguably, the film is better off with it than without it. There is also a big emphasis on family in the story. What we do for our family in their time of need? When do we lean on them the most? The movies explores these topics and more.


Manchester By The Sea is a film that teaches to let go of the past and move on to the future. The double narrative provides pivotal story points that are shocking and heartbreaking. Nevertheless, it is necessary to move the along the story to its conclusion. The story can sometimes seem to drag a little too long. There are certain scenes that go longer than they should and create awkward silences. The first act focusing on Lee's life could have been cut shorter. Overall, as the poster of the film suggests, the film is about the connection between people. I would recommend this film to anyone who loves family drama and stories about healing.

Manchester By The Sea is currently available on DVD, Blu-Ray, Amazon Video, and ITunes.

4 stars for Manchester By The Sea


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