Film review – Manchester By the Sea

Last week I had to make an unscheduled appointment to see my psychiatrist. I am never thrilled when this occurs but I am more accepting of those visits now more than I have been in the past. When I first moved here and began therapy I was seeing my psychiatrist or her nurse practitioner twice per week and gradually that has reduced to twice per month. Does that mean I am “less crazy” now than when I began? Certainly not. The conclusion of the unscheduled visit was that I need to get back in to some of the routine things that I used to do so that I can stop worrying by distracting myself with things that made me productive: sketching, exploring, doing good deeds daily, posting on the blog, etc. She really wants me to sketch and bring in my sketch pad to see my progress but I have developed a slight tremor since starting Lithium and I am afraid that if I sketch I will only be disappointed when I can no longer draw a straight line. That’s what straight edge’s are for though, right? Today I decided to not take on that task and to do something else I enjoy, which is watching films in theater.  I thought today would be a good day for me, Wednesday at 1:55 PM, no one would be in the theater at that time, right? Wrong. It was packed. Three months ago, if I had walked into a packed theater…I would’ve walked right back out and home. Especially after night before last not sleeping in almost 36 hours because I was up worrying about things not in my control (ie. a coyote that needs to be relocated out of Piedmont Park in Atlanta…among countless other things). Now that I think about it, I haven’t been to see a film in a theater in quite some time, July I believe. I had planned to go on Christmas as I always do with my family but this year I didn’t spend the holiday with my them and I have been/still am sick. The theater seating was divided into two sections: top half separated by a general middle walkway and then the bottom half (closest to the screen). To be alone I chose to sit in the bottom half today and I accomplished what I set out to do right up until the last trailer I was alone, then this geriatric lady with a walker came rolling by and asked me if the seat was taken. It was not so there she sat. I could’ve said, “I’m introverting today, so yes…yes it is” but when am I not introverting? Who can say no to a lady with a walker? An asshole, and I’m not an asshole generally speaking. (She smelled like lavender baby powder by the way. I don’t mind the smell of lavender as my arm pits smell of Tom’s lavender 24/7 or maybe 20/7 because sometimes I have night sweats. Now that I think about it, so does my beard secondary to beard oil/conditioner – there’s three FF about me…hope you paid attention). My therapist will be quite pleased that I spent nearly 3 hours in a public place. I am also pleased and I just might go a little crazy and repeat going to see a film again tomorrow. My life is so exciting and wild, you don’t have to tell me.

Manchester By the Sea is the film. The lead character, Lee is portrayed by Casey Affleck, who is mostly a non-verbal character that expresses his discomfort and distress through silence, stillness, and awkward body language …all relate-able. Oh, he does have a strong affinity for the word fuck (also relate-able). Lee has a brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler) who has a son, Patrick (Lucas Harris) who also has a strong affinity for the word fuck. These are the three main characters. The film also features (a few moments but powerful moments none-the-less) Michelle Williams who plays Lee’s wife/ex-wife. There’s even a very awkward scene involving Matthew Broderick, Jim I believe is his characters name. Solid cast and in my opinion, Casey delivers his best performance to date. The film tells a tragic but humorous portrayal of love, loss, and guilt. The script delivers raw emotional pain, makes you feel alive, and guilt like I haven’t seen portrayed in recent years.

Lee experiences a personal tragedy in his life. This said tragedy (I will not speak to what occurred as it will ruin a powerful scene) becomes the very reason he leaves Manchester and conforms to a solitary lifestyle with televised sports being his only friend (very relate-able this was for me). What do you think would happen if two hermits get together? The tragedy was so life altering that he wants to shed every connection between himself and the past. He loses relationships with all those he had been close to and then one day while shoveling snow (normal life shit) he gets a phone call and learns that his brother has died. His brother was an admirable man who experienced his own loss but he tried to keep Lee afloat when he lost his way. Joe was the rock of the family. Reminds me a lot of my relationship with my sisters. Lee now has to face the very place he left behind and all of the memories. While back in town making arrangements he learns that his brother Joe left him a clear path to redemption to return from the exile he placed himself in as well as the silent exile that is imposed by damn near every resident in the community of Manchester (plus or minus 3 people residents). Lee does not want this. He needs and wants to be punished, and he cannot stand the thought of being forgiven or absolved of his sins. This path leaves Lee to reunite and rekindle a strong humorous relationship with his nephew, Patrick. Their relationship delivers a lot of humor to the film. Each of them experience the same tragedy but also each experienced a different tragedy in the past. Patrick lost his mother (she didn’t die – but she did suffer from addiction and Joe divorced her and became a single father) and they now face this tragedy together and grow from it each in their own way.

Sooner or later Lee had to face the person he had so much shared history with, his ex-wife…Randi. There is a brief reunion sharing the condolences at the memorial service but later on there are three powerful scenes featuring the pair. One shows their love (their relationship was humorous/sarcastic – you can tell they not only loved one another romantically, but they also liked and loved one another as friends), one shows the disgust (this features a really awkward ambulance/gurney scene), and the last is the most powerful. The latter scene depicts two people with far too much shared history as they to navigate their current feelings that are physically sickening. Randi apologizes for the words she used after the original tragedy that tore them apart but, he again, he doesn’t want to be forgiven. Most people would probably say that actions cause more damage than words, but in my opinion words can be very powerful and even more damaging. There are many actions (there are just too many moments to fully remember) that I forget, but rarely do I forget words. While apologizing, Randi even utters to him that she loves him despite what happened, despite her new marriage, and despite her new addition to her family. This is a moment of pure agony as I completely understood these two human beings. I wanted them both to be happy but I knew there was no chance of that without one of them losing. Well it turns out, they both lose here. Lee later states that he just can’t beat it. “It” being the loss. Lee is broken. The film doesn’t show the breakdown of their marriage, only the event that led up to it.

There were no happy endings in this film, not for any character. Sometimes we can’t “get over” our tragedies whatever those are …and that’s ok. This film is brilliant and I highly recommend it to everyone. There isn’t anyone that can’t get something from the film. If you don’t, then you’re not human and that can’t be possible because you can’t view a film if you’re not a human.

Here is the trailer

Rating: R

Running time: 137 minutes (2 hr 17 mins)

Rating: 5 out 5 stars (not pleased with the ending scene as I wanted more but I understand why the director cut it here. The thoughts that I had during the film and as I left the theater, left me more than satisfied – great script – great character performance).

As I type this …I am still taking the film in as it related to me in many ways. If you’ve read some of my older posts I talk about the loss of J quite a lot and how broken it left me. To the point of not functioning and barely living. I turned my phone off, disconnected from the world and those who love me. So much so that my family (aka my oldest sister-mother) called the cops several times just to drive over to “check on me.” Lee’s character (although the loss was even more tragic for this character because essentially it was 4 losses at once) depicted on screen what I felt like. Broken. I’ve imagined how that in person conversation will happen between her and I…you know, after everything that has happened. How awkward it will be. I imagined it would go pretty much like the most powerful dialogue in this film. I know that it has to take place at some point besides in my head. Of course out of the 100 different ways/times I imagined that conversation, I imagined J telling me that she still loved me. But I don’t imagine any of it like that anymore. Now I only imagine J telling me that she’s happy and doing fantastically well in this life and me being able to tell her the same.

I’m slowly recovering, however it’s happening a lot faster than I thought possible. Quite contradictory, but I know you understand what I am saying. I even asked her a few nights ago if this was possible. Yes, she replied. I don’t know what tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year will bring but what I do know is that right now the support/understanding/compassion I receive from her makes me incredibly happy. She is empathetic to my mental disorder. She isn’t embarrassed by it. Look here, she even took time out of her day to give me a thoughtful gift that reminded her of me (this is just one of prints but this is something I say quite a bit when life doesn’t go as I want it to go) and I can’t wait to frame this bad boy as it will look great on my new walls.


It is very special to me…little thoughtful gifts = gargantuan gratitude. That’s my favorite word if you were wondering, gargantuan. I mean, whales are gargantuan in size. Did you know that a new baby blue whale gains 200 lbs per day?

4 thoughts on “Film review – Manchester By the Sea

  1. For you iamthatpersonwhoalreadyknows (links to free/low cost online therapy)
    (you can either pay for professional therapy or free to talk to strangers)
    ($32 week/unlimited messaging – can cancel at anytime)
    (various sites for free therapy)


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