Manchester by the Sea Blu-ray Review

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is a gut punch that never removes its fist until the last possible second. That feeling, for many, is reminiscent of some other traumatic life event, whether it’s a rough break-up, death, or divorce. It reminds us that it takes a while for us to recover from these events, but sometimes we never do. Things can get better and we have to believe they will or else that gut punch feeling will linger on forever. It’s most powerful and profound universal message in Kenneth Lonergan’s latest work.

Casey Affleck in Manchester By The Sea

Lee (Affleck) is sullen, rarely speaking and only raising his voice above a mouse’s whisper when he’s angry. The Massachusetts handyman/janitor is called away from his quiet life after receiving word that his brother has passed. It’s been expected because his brother had a weakened heart. The one thing he’s not looking forward to is returning to Manchester. It’s not just because he has been given the task of handling his nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), because there are ghosts from his past still lingering around town.

I was unsure what I was getting myself into when I first watched MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, but the movie is so expertly told, that its heartbreaking moments, that begin to stack on top of each other, come at the audience like a slow-motion trainwreck. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is easily one of the most depressing movies of the year, but also one of the poignant movies of the year about forgiveness. The audience not only watches this through Lee’s character, but the others that we meet, including Patrick and Lee’s ex-wife, Randi (Williams).

Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams in Manchester By The Sea

Every character is richly layered, with the movie peeling back another layer of skin with each passing moment, revealing another harsh reality or ugly truth. The movie is soulfully insightful for the mere fact that it manages to dive into the human psyche in relatable ways. Affleck’s performance is reserved and telling, allowing the audience to see Lee’s sorrow in long silences, but the personal anger in hushed flashes. Lee’s interactions with Patrick not only reveal more about Lee past for the audience, but we watch how both mature in emotion as they clash and bond.

Lucas Hedges combines adolescent arrogance and adult sorrow in one package. Patrick’s only likable for the simple fact that his father is dead. His grief doesn’t mask his character’s flaws, but makes him sympathetic for having to grow-up in such a little time span. While still very much a child in the ways of love and emotions, he certainly knows how to handle Lee when the drunken janitor is being an insufferable man-child.

Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges in Manchester By The Sea

Devastation permeates MANCHESTER BY THE SEA and covers everything in a tragic glow like daylight after a tornado tears through a town at night. Tragedy is inevitability, but it hits others harder and sometimes never leaves, instead setting up residence inside that person’s heart. Lonergan has told a fantastic movie about how sadness can envelop and take the reins of someone’s life, but also how that misery can be the one silver lining in a life of pain. We learn that the only way to live a full-life is to live it with pain.


Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 1:85:1) Even in the heat of summer I could feel cold watching this movie because of how clearly the Eastern snow comes through on this blu-ray. It’s a beautiful town on the oceanfront, but blistering cold and merciless.

Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Lonergan’s soundtrack didn’t give enough praise because of how much it matches the mood and setting. It comes through wonderfully on this blu-ray.

A Conversation with Director/Writer Kenneth Lonergan: This is actually just a director’s commentary of sorts. Joining Lonergan on this dry commentary is Peter Ventrella, who produces the blu-ray feature, “Emotional Lives.” It switches from conversational to question and answer throughout. There’s some interesting tidbits here and there, but it’s so hushed and reserved most of the time.

Emotional Lives: Making MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (16:00): A behind-the-scenes feature that stands out for it’s cast and crew interviews about the emotional impact of the movie. Lonergan and Affleck give the most insightful interviews on here.

Deleted Scenes (5:50): There are three deleted scenes and they’re all flashbacks.While they’re interesting, for their insight into the character’s past, they seem to add insult to the character’s injuries. So it could be viewed as unnecessarily heartless to include these in an already dour film.


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