Manchester By The Sea

By Angie Raphael

4 stars

Witnessing pain and despair in a film can be draining on an audience. But when it is done right, as it is in Manchester By The Sea, that kind of raw emotion can be compelling viewing. Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan has created a family drama about grief without being drearily melodramatic. It is a simple premise, but provides a lot of insight and complex character development. Lee (Casey Affleck) is working as a janitor and handyman when his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies, leaving Lee to plan the funeral and take care of Joe’s 16-year old son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges). There is some mystery about why Lee is so despondent, which is slowly revealed in a series of flashbacks. It is not a massive twist but it is a sad one and there is a particularly moving scene between Affleck and Michelle Williams, who plays his ex-wife. Like most of Lonergan's films, Manchester By The Sea is a little too long, but it is such an in-depth journey of personal struggles.