Saturday, February 18, 2017

Manchester by the Sea

I realize that Manchester by the Sea has been out for awhile, but we just got around to it. The movie has not had a wide release in our area. At the theater we usually go to, it was only showing once on Friday at 4:40 and once on Sunday. For those of you who are impatient and want my opinion, I liked it.

The film is a character driven story. No car chases, little violence and no nudity. It is about a very damaged man, Lee, dealing with his past and the death of his brother. That now dead brother has designated Lee as guardian of his teenage son and executor of his estate. 

As expected, it is not a smooth transition. There is also the side story about Lee's family's horrific tragedy and contact with his former wife. It is well into the movie before we are let into the tragedy via flashbacks. His nephew's relationship with his estranged mother also comes into play. 

This is a very serious and often dark film. There is little comic or light relief. Nobody seems happy with their life, they just go through the motions. On the bright side, the performances are outstanding and some of the scenery is gorgeous. For those of us not from the northeast, the Massachusetts accents can be amusing. 

Casey Affleck is tremendous as the tormented and flawed Lee Chandler. Lucas Hedges is terrific as the 16 year old nephew who just lost his father. The relationship between them is the main driver of the film. Michelle Williams plays Randi, Lee's ex-wife. All the players do a good job.

The story takes an up and down winding road path to what some may see as a less than satisfactory and abrupt ending. I won't give anything away, but it does not appear that everyone lives happily ever after. Maybe not a completely happy ending, but pretty pragmatic and realistic. 

Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams and the film are nominated for a total of six Oscars including best picture. Casey and Lucas are very deserving and could win. Michelle is OK, but I don't see an Oscar for her this time. The other categories, best picture, direction, and writing are all deserving of the nominations.

I give this movie a solid A rating and recommend it. Not for everyone, but a well written, well acted, well executed film. 

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