Manchester by the Sea

manchester-by-the-seaLee Chandler (Casey Affleck) lives near Boston working as a maintenance man. He gets a call that his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) is in the hospital. Lee makes the hour and a half drive to see his brother only to find out that by the time he gets to the hospital, Joe has died. Lee then must find Joe’s son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), and tell him about his dad.

It isn’t until reading Joe’s will that Lee finds out his brother intended him to be Patrick’s guardian. Unsure of the choice, and still reluctant to take on raising Patrick, Lee stays at Joe’s house as he tries to figure it out. He would have to give up his job and move to Manchester, otherwise it would mean moving Patrick away from his home and friends.

With a colder, more distant relationship than when Patrick was young, he and Lee must decide what is the best course for both of them.

Manchester by the Sea has been getting lots of awards buzz in regards to the actors and the screenplay. I don’t get it.

While they eventually give you a reason for his behavior, Casey Affleck’s character comes off as disconnected. Most of his time on-screen is spent in one awkward situation after another. I never get real feelings from him or a reason to care about his character. Lucas Hedges is adequate as an angsty, horny teenager. Again, though, there is no real depth to his character. There is no sense of mourning after his father died and no longing for the connection he and his uncle once had.

Long sweeping shots of the New England area are well done. The problem is they linger too long at times and add to the film’s weighty 137 minute run time. Pacing is perhaps the movie’s biggest downfall. It plods along at a painful pace, attempting to build drama while never really achieving it.

Manchester by the Sea is a film that builds slow and never quite achieves the resolution it deserves. While the ending is responsible, it feels abrupt and an easy way out. If you plan to see this, wait for it to be available to rent. Then set aside almost 2 1/2 hours to sit through a heavily nominated that will bore you.


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