Manchester By The Sea (2016)

A review by Shlomoh Sherman
March 29, 2017

Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Writer: Kenneth Lonergan
Stars: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges
Plot Summary: An uncle is asked to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy's father dies.
Genres: Drama
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)
Rated R for language throughout and some sexual content
Official Sites: Official Facebook | Official Site
Country: USA
Language: English
Release Date: December 16, 2016 (USA)
Filming Locations: Lynn, Massachusetts, USA
Box Office:
Budget: $8,500,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $256,498 (USA) (November 18, 2016)
Gross: $38,898,692 (USA) (January 20, 2017)
Company Credits:
Production Co: Amazon Studios, K Period Media, Pearl Street Films
Runtime: 137 min
Color: Color


Everybody is raving about MANCHESTER BY THE SEA. My friend Judy said she didn't like it. How can you not like it? Just look at all the nominations it got, courtesy of Wikipedia [].

"Manchester by the Sea received critical acclaim upon its release and was regarded as among the best films of 2016. Critics praised in particular Affleck's performance, as well as Lonergan's direction and screenplay. At the 89th Academy Awards, the film received six nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Affleck), Best Supporting Actor (Hedges), Best Supporting Actress (Williams) and Best Original Screenplay, winning for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor. It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and was nominated in four more categories."

This is a depressing story about a depressing family which may depress some audiences.

When his brother dies, a man [Lee Chandler] returns to the town of Manchester, MA to be the guardian of his newphew, Patrick. Throughout the movie, Lee bores us as he recounts past memories that caused him to run away from Manchester, his wife, ,Randi, and everyone else who knows him.

Back in Manchester, he is forced to deal with the memory of his marriage. Flashbacks reveal to us that Lee was happily married to Randi in Maanchester with Randi until he accidentally started a fire that killed their 3 children. At the station where his is being questioned, Lee attempts suicide by pulling a gun from a policeman's holster. His attempt fails. He is not charged with any crime but Randi hates him for the children's death and they eventually get a divorce. After the divorce comes through, he moves to Boston, becoming bitter and isolated.

Upon his return to Manchester, Lee runs into a remarried, happy Randi. She invites him to have lunch with her, and tells him how sorry she is for having treated him so hatefully during the divorce. Sobbing, she says that her heart is broken, and she knows his is broken as well. She feels confesses to feeling guilty now that she recovered from her loss. But it's obvious that he still hasn't.

Lee is emotionally unable to hande the encounter with her and declines the invitation. He runs away and she still sobs.

Lee feels rage. He gets drunk and picks a fight with strangers at a local bar. He gets beaten very badly.

Lee arranges for his friend George and his wife to act as legal guardians for Patrick. Patrick is understandably upset because he wants hs uncle Lee to be his guardian, and he asks Lee why Lee he can't stay in Manchester to fill that role. Lee tells Patrick that he just cannot "beat it." Patrick understands what Lee means and cries as Lee comforts him. Later, Lee tells Patrick that he is looking for a new residence with an extra room, so that Patrick can visit whenever he wants.

In a final scene, Lee and Patrick go fishing on Joe's refurbished boat that Patrick has inherited.

Before I venture an opinion, let me quote Evanzhang-03595's January, 2017 review found on IMDB:

BoredChester by the Bored
"This movie is so bad that I had to do this review; worst movie of the year. Need I say more? Normally I don't do [such negative] review[s]. The drawn out boring scenes had long drawn out focus on things like pushing an elevator button [rather than] interesting things which further the story, and not things which further show emotion of the characters. Actually it was really just one character. Casey Affleck, a janitor who is sad. He mopes around the entire movie. No acting, no emotion, just walking around looking sad. Yes his acting was horrible, but I still have to think the director could have given him some direction along the way. But no, the story had no meaningful direction, so why would I expect the director to care about the acting any more than he cares about the editing, storyline, or even sound track. The supporting actors played no meaningful part in the movie, but for the short time they were on screen there were some solid performances."

What more can I really say? Evanzhang has said most of it for me. Yes, Judy was right.
Nominated for Best Picture? Who is kidding whom? Just look at my review of Moonlight which actually DID get that award. Although I gave Moonlight a good review, I don't feel it was the best picture. And this brooding mess is even less deserving.
Casey Affleck as Best Actor? 'Scuse me while I gag! Why? Because he is the brother of the self-inflated Ben who somehow manages to creep into all of Kevin Smith's movies? See the Trivia remark about Matt Damon, his self-inflated buddy, below.
Best Original Screenplay? Dark, depressing, badly acted by the star - not to mention one of the tritest storylines I have ever encountered, and believe me, in my 80 years of movie watching, I have encountered quite an eyefull of dreck! MANCHESTER BY THE SEA gets my award for "Praise Geezus that I didn't have to pay to see it!"

And frankly, my dear! Neither should you! Has my message gotten through to you? Or do you need more? If so, please email me at the address found on the Movie Review Index Page.

KUDOS to Best Supporting Actor, Lucas Hedges, as Patrick; this young man may have a bright future in Hollywood if he chooses the right vehicles.
KUDOS to Best Supporting Actress, Michelle Williams as Randi; ever since I saw her in BREAKBACK MOUNTAIN and SHUTTER ISLAND, I have fallen in love with this beautiful and talented woman. I hope we see much more of her.

These two, at least, give some light in an overwhelmingly dark landscape.

Listen, I could always write more criticism of this cinematic joke but I refuse to sully my keyboard by doing so.

Did You Know?

The actor who plays Joe Chandler shares exactly the same last name in real life, Kyle Chandler.
The town was called Manchester until 1989, when resident Edward Corley led a highly controversial campaign to formally change its name to Manchester-by-the-Sea. The action was passed by the state legislature that year.
First film distributed or co-distributed by a streaming service - in this case, Amazon - to get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

According to an interview with Kenneth Lonergan on DP/30, the idea for the film didn't originate with him - the main core of a character going back home to take care of a family member after a death was pitched to Lonergan by Matt Damon and John Krasinski as a script that Lonergan would write and for Damon to direct. But due to scheduling conflicts with The Martian (2015), Damon couldn't direct the film or star in it (he was considered for the role of Lee that Casey Affleck was cast in.) Lonergan was then given free rein as a writer-director for the project, with Damon as producer.
The idea for MANCHESTER BY THE SEA actually was hatched by John Krasinski. Krasinski shared his nascent pitch with Damon over dinner in 2011 during the filming of The Adjustment Bureau (in which Damon co-starred with Krasinski's wife, Emily Blunt).
Manchester-by-the-sea is a real town on the north shore of Massachusetts.
While portrayed as working class and blue collar, Manchester-by-the Sea is actually a very upscale and affluent town.
One of the first films distributed by Amazon Studios to earn buzz for the 2017 award season.
Casey Affleck won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for this movie.
The scene where the paramedics try to roll the stretcher in the ambulance and fail was not scripted. The actors including Casey Affleck actually briefly struggled to get the stretcher in, but Kenneth Lonergan decided not to cut it.
Director Cameo: Kenneth Lonergan as the Manchester Pedestrian who heckles Casey Affleck (Lee Chandler) for being a bad parent.

Patrick explains to Lee why he can't move to Boston, listing reasons he is locked into his life in Manchester. At one point he says "I'm on the hockey team, I'm on the basketball team." Both sports are played during the winter season in Massachusetts making it impossible for Patrick to participate in both.
Lee is shown purchasing beer in a convenience store at 2 AM. In Massachusetts it is illegal for a store to sell beer after 11 PM.
During the scene where they are discussing what is a good disease, right when Casey Affleck's, Lee Chandler says "athletes foot", Kyle Chandler can be seen mouthing those exact same words.
When Lee asked to see his brother Joe's body, he's taken down to the hospital morgue. The drawer holding Joe is opened and the white body bag he's in is unzipped, and only his head is uncovered and visible. Then the camera angle changes and Lee is still just looking at Joe, then the shot goes back to the original angle but now the white body bag is unzipped further and more of Joe's arm and chest are visible. The amount the white body bag is open changes between camera shots.
At the end of the boat scene where Lee, Patrick and Patrick's girlfriend are on the stern, as it pulls away from the camera there is a coil of rope at Lee's feet which alternates from being coiled to uncoiled between shots.
The fishing boat has registration numbers on its side beginning with "MS". Pleasure boats have numbers beginning with MS but commercial boats do not.
During the funeral the priest is wearing a purple stole. The appropriate liturgical color for funerals is white.
After the visit to Elise's house, Jeff writes an email to Patrick. In the email, Jeff uses the word 'privilaged', which is spelled incorrectly. It is actually spelled 'privileged'.
A policeman offers Lee Chandler a ride home which is pretty insensitive since his house just burned to the ground. But in this context the officer clearly means he'll drive him to Lee's brother's house or a hotel or wherever it is he's staying at that point.
In the emotional scene where Randi apologizes to Lee, her mouth sometimes can be seen moving from a back shot even though she is not talking.
When Lee and Patrick leave the funeral home, the sign for the funeral home behind them reads backwards, indicating that the filmed image has been inverted left to right.
When Lee and Patrick leave the funeral home, Lee is wearing a toque with its logo on the right side of his head. In subsequent shots, the logo on the toque moves to the left of his head. Actually, the hat was worn correctly by the actor in the first shot, but the director later decided they had to use a mirror image of the shot, which only made it seem like the hat was worn differently.
When Lee gets home and sees Suzy on the couch, the three drawings hanging from the fireplace mantle appear and disappear between shots.
When Patrick asks Lee for his girlfriend to stay over, the position of the pillow on the bed changes several times between cuts.

Lee Chandler: I can't beat it. I can't beat it. I'm sorry.
Patrick: What happened to your hand?
Lee Chandler: I cut it.
Patrick: Oh, thanks. For a minute there, I didn't know what happened.
Randi Chandler: I said a lot of terrible things to you, my heart was broken, but I know yours was broken too.
Lee Chandler: No, you don't understand, there's nothing that...
Randi Chandler: That's not true.
Patrick: Who you're gonna shoot? You or me?
Randi Chandler: I know you never... Maybe you don't wanna talk to me.
Lee Chandler: It's not that...
Randi Chandler: Let me finish, let me finish. Whoever... My heart was broken, cause it's always gonna be broken and I know yours is broken too. And I don't have to carry it. I said things. I should fucking burn in hell for what I said to you.
Lee Chandler: No,no,no. Randi, no.
Randi Chandler: I'm just sorry.
Lee Chandler: It's... I can't expl... I can't...
Randi Chandler: I love you! Maybe I shouldn't say that.
Lee Chandler: You can say this. I'm sorry, I gotta go.
Randi Chandler: We could have lunch?
Lee Chandler: I'm really sorry, I don't think so. I thank you for saying everything you just said.
Randi Chandler: You can't just die!
Lee Chandler: I'm not. I'm not. And I want you to be happy, and I...
Randi Chandler: I see you walking around here, and I just wanna tell you...
Lee Chandler: I would want to talk to you, Randi. Please, I've uh... uh... I'm trying to...
Randi Chandler: Lee, Lee, you've got to... I don't know what. I don't wanna torture you.
Lee Chandler: This is not... You're not... You're not torturing me.
Randi Chandler: I just wanna tell you that I was wrong.
Lee Chandler: No. No. You don't understand, there's nothing... there's nothing there. There's nothing there.
Randi Chandler: That's not true, that's not true

Let the Good Times Roll Written by Shirley Goodman & Leonard Lee Performed by Shirley Goodman & Leonard Lee (as Shirley & Lee) Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under License from Universal Music Enterprises
Chérubin Written by Jules Massenet Performed by Münchner Rundfunkorchester (as Munich Radio Orchestra) and the Bavarian State Opera Chorus (as Choir Chorus of the Bavarian State Opera) Mezzo-soprano: Frederica Von Stade Bass Vocal: Samuel Ramey Soprano: June Anderson and Dawn Upshaw Courtesy of Sony Classical by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
Driving Wheel Written by Roosevelt Sykes Performed by Albert King Courtesy of Stax Records by arrangement of Concord Music Group, Inc.
Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin' Courtesy of the Ray Charles Foundation Written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II Performed by Ray Charles Courtesy of the Ray Charles Enterprises
Pifa (Pastoral Symphony) -The Messiah Written by George Frideric Handel Performed by Musica Sacra Chorus & Musica Sacra Orchestra (as Orchestra) Conducted by Richard Westenburg Courtesy of Sony Classical by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
Cartoon Cat And Mouse Written by Linda Martinez Courtesy of 5 Alarm Music 45 Revolutions Per Minute Written by Ryan Taylor Performed by Oil Boom Courtesy of Vu Music
Adagio In G Minor Written by Tomaso Albinoni and Remo Giazotto Performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra Courtesy of X5 Music
I Gotta Run Written by Jordan Richardson Lyrics by Robert Karen Performed by Stentorians (as Stentorian) Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts Written and Performed by Bob Dylan Courtesy of Colombia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
He Shall Feed His Flock Like A Shepherd; Come Unto Him - The Messiah Written by George Frideric Handel Katherine Ciesinski and Judith Blegen, Solists Performed by Musica Sacra Chorus & Musica Sacra Orchestra (as Orchestra) Conducted by Richard Westenburg Courtesy of Sony Classical by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
Tell Me Why Written by Jordan Richardson Lyrics by Robert Karen Performed by Stentorians (as Stentorian)
I'm Beginning To See The Light Written by Duke Ellington, Don George, Johnny Hodges, and Harry James Performed by The Ink Spots and Ella Fitzgerald Courtesy of Geffen Records Under license from Universal Music Enterprises

At My Front Door Written by Johnny Moore and Ewart Abner (as Ewart Abner Jr.) Performed by El Dorados Courtesy of Vee-Jay Records Used by permission of Concord Music Group, Inc.
Sonata For Oboe & Piano, 1st Movement Written by George Frideric Handel Performed by Gerhard Kanzian & Ed Lewis

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Read about Manchester By The Sea On the Internet Movie Data Base

Cast overview, first billed only:
Casey Affleck ... Lee Chandler
Lucas Hedges ... Patrick Ben O'Brien ... Young Patrick
Michelle Williams ... Randi Kyle Chandler ... Joe Chandler
Richard Donelly ... Mr. Martinez (1st Tenant)
Virginia Loring Cooke ... Mrs. Groom (2nd tenant)
Quincy Tyler Bernstine ... Marianne (3rd Tenant)
Missy Yager ... Mrs. Olsen (4th Tenant)
Stephen Henderson ... Mr. Emery (as Stephen McKinley Henderson)
Ben Hanson ... Lenny - the bartender
Mary Mallen ... Sharon
Lewis D. Wheeler ... 1st Businessman at Bar
Anthony Estrella ... 2nd Businessman at Bar
C.J. Wilson ... George
Susan Pourfar ... Nurse Irene
Robert Sella ... Dr. Muller

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