The first scenes of “Manchester By The Sea” are in the city of Boston covered with snow. The protagonist Lee lives in the repair of damaged items. He goes home and fixes everything: water pipes, ceiling fans, bathtubs … Lee looks so trustworthy and good at this, so much so that a woman loves him. But we will soon realize that Lee is the worst. Because you bring a broken heart.
There are directors dedicated to pursuing only one genre, a single subject. Kenneth Lonergan is like that. His third film, “You Can Count on Me,” and Margaret (2011), explores the theme of family tragedy, portraying the effect of loss on survivors. Human pain, and how to heal it. Like Count On Me, the protagonist of Manchester is also a canine boy. For some reason, Lee (Casey Affleck) lives alone in a strange city. Everyday, after work, he goes to the pub, gets drunk. Although nothing is revealed, we feel something is wrong. Lee’s eyes are lifeless and empty, lacking connection to the surroundings. One of the girls in the restaurant tried to get acquainted, and Lee stared. Lee’s only physical encounter was the punching of the two strangers, whom he was a creature.
This tedious life was interrupted by a phone call. From his hometown of Manchester, it was reported that his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) was hospitalized. When Lee drove to the place, Joe passed away. As the only relatives, he had to prepare for the funeral, as well as care for nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Lee wants to finish things fast to leave. But then the incident happened. Joe’s funeral had to be postponed for three months because of the weather. More troublesome, Joe has indicated in Will’s will as Patrick’s guardian.
No other way, he was forced to stay in this outback town. Manchester continues with the alternation between the present and the past in Lee’s mind. It is a memory brought back by events and scenery, in an understandable and genuine psychological development. In turn, the relationship between family members is revealed, between Lee and Joe, Patrick, and his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams). And when tragedy really opens, more terrible than we wait.
“Manchester By The Sea” is a simple and complex movie. Very complicated. It’s simple in terms of plot and narrative, but psychological and detailed complexity. The hardest thing in the script, written by Lonergan himself, is easy to fall into too dramatic drama. “You made a mistake, like millions of others,” the cop told Lee on the fateful night. But not everyone suffers the consequences at his level. To keep things real, the director has to be very hard-tempered. And Manchester is so real, like the slice of life shown on screen, thanks to Lonergan.
Long up to 2 hours 15 minutes, but not one minute of Manchester feeling lingering. Lonergan grasp the character psychology very well. He is loyal to the minimalist style, when describing Lee’s past. Without an effect, both the technique or the technique of filmmaking, let the viewer know that it is a memory scene. They just happen naturally, connected with the present. This method of making the initial surprise, but full of strength later. Is, what makes us the most painful after every loss, are these fragments of trivial memories? That way, Lonergan describes what is bigger, is death. Not of relatives, but of Lee himself, of the pain that is gnawing upon his soul. The winter scenes are also invoked to depict the chill inside the character.
Another necessary support, to make things credible, is the great fullness of the details of the film. The main storyline on Lee is heavily accreted by secondary routes. Lonergan took care of them very well. This is an irresponsible alcoholic mother, Patrick’s girlfriend family, Joe’s kindhearted co-worker, team teacher, Asian doctor … They all make a living world where they We see both human and fake, false. Lonergan’s work was so detailed that, in his nephew’s band he added a member who always beat the beat. What does it mean? Nothing, but made the film’s base layer significantly thicker. That’s life.
Strangely, when enjoying, “Manchester By The Sea” it reminded me a lot about Asian filmmakers. The film reminds the writer of the reminiscence of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, with A Separation (2011), technically. In addition to being Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda, with the movie Still Walking (2008), in terms of content. Along with Lonergan, they are the only ones who focus on family relationships. Despite cultural differences, we find that the core values of the family are the same everywhere. The way people accept pain, and relying on those values to overcome, is the same.
In Manchester, the nephew relationship between Lee and Patrick is dominant. Loss causes people to become isolated, and only loss can connect people. Joe’s death gave the opportunity for two of us, the only relatives, to lean on each other. Lonergan has overcome the most difficult thing in the family category, is to visualize the love cord. Throughout the film, Lee and Patrick are always arguing, but we can easily see them the same. When both of them begin to care for the other, it is time to save oneself.
Manchester has an excellent script, but it would be meaningless without the cast that would make it big enough. Casey Affleck, who performed well in the critically-acclaimed crime film, co-starred with Ben Affleck’s brother Gone Baby Gone (2007), reached new heights with great acting. Not only convincing the viewer of the character Lee, who is so traumatized that he has to choose the pain of the body to soothe the mind, Casey also creates the gloomy atmosphere surrounding him. At the same time, he was still very masculine and attractive. Lucas Hedges co-ordinates perfectly with Casey as Patrick, the tough but powerful, energetic nephew. Michelle Williams, though not a lot, has a great scene. She is not the type to maintain a good style in a long movie, but when she concentrates on a single scene, she really touches my heart. To add, it was an excellent Lonergan direction. In the movie, many scenes of memories. But at that moment, he did not show their past scene. We can imagine how Randi’s old words are so cruel, only by witnessing her extreme regret at the present.
“Manchester By The Sea” is a beautiful, moving film that will stay in our memory for a long time. It is far more complex than what is shown, as a result of so many talents and experiences. I read somewhere, someone said that this is the kind of film that Vietnamese cinema can look forward to. It is wrong. This is the hardest movie in film. It transforms the personal story into the universal value of humanity, which only happens in masterpieces. Man dies, and man continues to live, no matter what. Another minor character said at the end of the film that his father was missing when he was little. Not only Lee, everyone must face loss, in certain times. But when the cold winter passes, out of the window, the plant will bloom.