Movie Review – Manchester By The Sea


I have seen the previews of this movie several times and really wanted to see it. It has been in theaters for a while, now, so I started worrying that I might miss out if I didn’t get my butt out to see it. So……today, I went to the early bird matinee at Tinseltown and saw it.


Sorry – I’m going to break my own rule and include some spoilers! I won’t spoil it all – there is a lot more to it than what I share, but if you don’t want to know too much before you go see it, you might want to skip reading this review! After all… is just my opinion and you might not feel the same if you see it!

By all accounts, Manchester By The Sea should have been a fabulous movie full of gut wrenching emotion and families/friends coming together to heal and care for each other. Well, the gut wrenching emotion was there! But, I have to say I was more than a little disappointed by this movie. On the up side……it was an excellent story and the acting was very good! It had some strong potential. But, in my never to be humble opinion, it fell flat.

Manchester By The Sea is the story of Lee Chandler, played by Casey Affleck (who I usually much prefer over his brother, Ben). Lee lives in Boston and works as a janitor/handy man for an apartment complex and lives in a room in the basement of one of the buildings. He moved there from Manchester, MA after a terrible tragedy occurred in his life. He receives a call that his brother, Joe (played by Kyle Chandler) has died. Joe was diagnosed a few years prior with congestive heart failure and, after several hospitalizations over the years, died from the disease. Lee travels to Manchester to handle the funeral arrangements and to tell Joe’s teenage son, Patrick (played by Lucas Hedges) the news. He is told by Joe’s attorney that Joe’s will names Lee as trustee and guardian of Patrick. Lee’s life is in turmoil and he is an emotional wreck, so he questions whether or not he is a fit guardian for Patrick, but he agrees to see where it all goes and arranges to stay in Manchester at least through the summer to get things settled and not uproot Patrick too quickly. While in Manchester, he is faced with memories and people that open old wounds….including his ex-wife, Randi (played by Michelle Williams).

The movie drags on and on……I kept wishing it would just move on and kept waiting for Lee to begin to see that facing his demons and being around Patrick may help him to heal. But, it all just makes his heart break deeper. Seeing Randi tears him apart because she is remarried and about to have a child with her new husband. He is torn with knowing that staying in Manchester is far too painful, but also knowing that the best thing for Patrick IS to stay there and allow him to not leave school, sports, friends, and the life he is comfortable with. He makes his choice and sets the wheels in motion and then the movie just ENDS…….

Like I said, the story is a really good one and the actors all did an incredible job. But, it was VERY SLOW and I left feeling extremely depressed! I also felt cheated, as the ending was very abrupt and I felt it left too much unsettled! It is definitely a movie about how deeply a tragic loss (and in Lee’s case multiple losses) can effect you and cause serious depression. It also sends a powerful message that sometimes facing your demons and trying to move on with the memories staring you in the face can do more harm than good. Not the message one in Lee’s position really wants to discover. I guess the movie did accomplish what it’s intent was……to elicit deep emotion……cause I sure did feel it! My problem with it is that I go to the movies to be entertained and I’m very much a “happily ever after” kind of girl. So………I personally rate this a 3+ out of 5. If you are as easily overcome with emotion as I am, you may not want to see this movie alone during an afternoon matinee. But, I hate to discount it totally…….

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