Manchester by the Sea

7.82 h 17 min2016X-RayUHDR
Casey Affleck leads an all-star cast in this acclaimed and poignant film about a solitary janitor whose life is transformed after he becomes the guardian of his 16-year-old nephew.
Kenneth Lonergan
Casey AffleckMichelle WilliamsKyle Chandler
English [CC]Français
Audio languages
EnglishEnglish [Audio Description]Français

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Supporting actors
Lucas HedgesGretchen MolMatthew Broderick
Kimberly StewardMatt DamonLauren BeckChris MooreKevin Walsh
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Violencealcohol usefoul languagesexual content
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3.7 out of 5 stars

5748 global ratings

  1. 51% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 13% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 10% of reviews have 3 stars
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  5. 17% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

SamuelReviewed in the United States on May 9, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
"It seems there should be some dialog here"--A film that exposes the insensitivity of its critics--to life and to art.
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This is a film with so many "ordinary" moments that it ultimately proves "extraordinary" in its use of understatement to awaken viewers to a heightened awareness of their own mortality and to the power of "art" (in this case, cinematic art) to shine a light on the darkest corners of a world-in-flux. Like the films of the ultra nuanced, minimalist French filmmaker, Robert Bresson, "Manchester" manages to "mute" its most horrific scenes, reducing each visual impression--through the brevity of a shot, the avoidance of close-ups, the use of formal, stately music--to the same "scale," or level of importance, as the film's more mundane scenes and routine actions. Like the world of nature--in which creation and destruction, energy and entropy co-exist, inseparably and “undramatically”—the events in “Manchester By the Sea” unfold with the random and cruel necessity of natural process.

The closest we get to an action like the conventional "climax" of most well-plotted stories is a brief encounter late in the movie between Lee (Casey Affleck) and ex-spouse Randi (Michelle Williams). Although remarried and pregnant, she not only forgives Lee the death of their three children but insists she still loves him! Immediately the fire is doused by Lee, who can only say "there's nothing there" and walk away. Similarly, Lee seems incredulous that, after going to the police station and testifying to his role as the drug and alcohol-affected agent of his own 3 children's deaths, he is simply told he can go. He has not committed anything criminal; he's not even accountable. Thereupon, his diminishment to "nothingness" falls just short of completion when his attempt at suicide is prevented by the police who quickly disarm him. Subsequently, each of his violent eruptions against those he meets up with is at once an expression of his paranoia towards others (even complete strangers!) who judge him as he judges himself and an existential plea for recognition of himself as a human being in danger of disappearing from the human community if not the face of the earth.

The most unusual moment for this viewer came during a short scene in the last 10 minutes of the film. Lee is seated at a kitchen table, with his friend George in the middle and George's wife at the other end. It's a strangely comforting scene, since Lee appears almost "at home" in Manchester prior to relocating. But it's a moment of silence--one that is apparently resisted even by the filmic, or digital, medium responsible for telling Lee's story. At the end of the scene, my wife asked: "Did you see that?" "What?" I askedI "The caption!" I backed up the film, and saw these words at the bottom of the screen: "It seems there should be some dialog during this scene." Was this included by the filmmakers? Was it due to the automatic voice recognition encoded in the film for the purpose of translating speech to written dialog? Was it one of those decisions automatically made by Amazon's Alexa? (She's in the same room as the TV set.) I don't recall ever seeing anything like a caption which, during a protracted silence, appeared to become a critic rather than a describer or translator.

Regardless of the source, the quirky caption prompted me to answer back: "No! It does NOT seem there should be talking during this scene! Dialogue would be inappropriate in a cinematic story that "shows" an individual's struggle for significance--for his very identity--in a world that at every turn denies it." It’s in the absence of dialogue that Lee Chandler--a tragic hero with the bold and deliberative initiative of his archetypal forerunner, Oedipus Rex--proceeds to assert courage and decisive action in the face of unspeakable tragedy. He says about his relation to Manchester, "I can't beat it. I can't beat it." But then he goes on to demonstrate that he won't let it beat HIM. He has found a new place of residence (Boston). Moreover, he's taken care of every detail, signed every dotted line, worked out terms to assure his nephew Lucas that he may remain in Manchester, interacting with his old friends, inheriting his father's fishing boat (with a new motor) and, if he chooses, come to Boston to visit Uncle Lee (who has taken pains to find an apartment with a guest room for that purpose).

This is as good as it gets--at least in in the world of “Manchester-By-The-Sea,” and perhaps in the "real" world. At the end, Lee meets a Manchester citizen who relates that one day his still-young fisherman-father, like Lee's brother, went out fishing--and this father never came back. Life at Manchester is not cut and dry, black and white, secure or even safe. It's a challenge, a character-building experience, but it's also a setting for developing relationships that are genuine. For Lee, Manchester was the setting of a young and careless father's unspeakable loss, his spiritual growth, and his acceptance of the role of father to a teenaged boy who, like Lee, must face the rough vicissitudes of the sea and of life. Unlike Lee, Lucas will test the waters of life under the protective but respectful and expansive wings of a surrogate father. The closing shot of the pair fishing together speaks volumes which--thanks to the resourceful directing, minimalist writing (including musical scoring), and lasting resonance of Casey Affleck's understated performance--need not be spoken.

How many of us would give anything to spend a few hours fishing for pan-sized bluegills or perch with an absent father or grown son? It's a hole we may not be able to fill; an ache that may not be easily assuaged. The film theorist who defined movies as "the redemption of physical reality" could not have found stronger support for his idea than this final shot of "Manchester By The Sea."
6 people found this helpful
Tania MendezReviewed in the United States on June 21, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
A masterpiece in its own right
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It's extremely disappointing that so many people would rate this so low without giving it a chance or understanding the quiet art of such a film (I am in no way trying to say that people are stupid, just wish people would open their minds more while watching a film like this). This is such a real interpretation of what some people go through and I felt every beat of the emotion of the film like something stamped over my heart. It was powerful and it was moving and it felt REAL. I believe I even read somewhere that the director wanted this film to be different because there are so many films that display grief and loss as something momentary that people go through but oh, they have an epiphany and suddenly everything is butterflies and rainbows...what about the people who as Lee puts in the film, "can't beat it"? What about the people that grow through things so horribly that it still effects them so deeply that time doesn't always heal them right away? Do they not deserve a film too? Everyone goes through life differently, everyone goes through GRIEF differently and some people just don't come out of it completely healed and that's OKAY. The spirit of the film is that there are shining moments of hope and clarity there, you just have to open your eyes to seeing them. They aren't grand gestures, or being moving redemptive speeches with a sweeping orchestra. This movie is subtle, slow-paced and is filled with a lot of emotions that some people might not be ready for. If you're looking for something with a happy ending or great displays of inspiration breakthroughs, THIS MOVIE IS NOT FOR YOU.

The cinematography was excellent, the acting absolutely exquisite! Casey Affleck, an actor that surely never disappoints in the roles I've seen him in and his oscar I feel was well deserved. You can feel the pain, the uncertainty and the grief that hangs over him like lead. The beginning of the film, I really didn't like his character at all and didn't really understanding until the gut-punch of a flashback lays his pain so bare that I was choking on tears. I could understand his hesitation to return to a place that caused him so much pain and showed how he struggles to take care of his nephew, Patrick but he TRIES. He could have given up and he really does try and I feel like that is a small little glimmer of hope that many people overlook, the fact that the man is trying despite the situation, the fact that he loved his brother, Joe so much to still make the effort to be there for his brother's son even when he's drowning in his own grief. Lucas Hedges was exceptionally well in playing Patrick, a kid just stuck in the middle of all this, dealing with the death of his father and trying to understand the turbulent mess that his uncle has become. Their relationship is painful to watch, but it's also beautiful. The break-down scene clutches at my heart because of how it's so human and filled with understanding and care. Michelle Williams, although in this for very little, knocked her role out of the park, especially with such an emotional scene between her and Lee. A mother trying to move on but still holding on to a man she understands is hurting just as much as she is/was. Really, the whole cast was perfect.

This review is long, but I have so much to say on this film because I believe in the message. Life sucks, we all go through things and make decisions that we regret, and not all of us come out of it as quickly as others. Things take time, A LOT of time in some cases, and that's okay. People shouldn't be justified by how fast they take to get over things but how they really try no matter what. Hope is possible, if you allow yourself the time you need and really take those steps to be better on your own time. That little moment on the boat, with Patrick and his girlfriend steering and Lee just on the back, watching. That small smile, that was a moment where I knew that his character was starting to warm, it might not have been much and overlooked by many but man, I saw so much potential in him and even though we don't get to see how he turns out, I choose to believe that he's going to be okay. I encourage some of the one-star reviewers to maybe give this film another chance, to really sit with it and try to understand the message and look for those small moments of gratification because they are in there. This film is ambitious, tragic and absolute art.
4 people found this helpful
YesnierReviewed in the United States on April 20, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Not for everyone apparently
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This movie seems to either not be an easy watch for a lot of people, and/or does not have a payoff worth its runtime. This film is sitting at a 3.2 out of 5 on amazon as I write this review, and I could not disagree more. This is an amazing film depicting the life long affects of very unfortunate mistakes, loss, the importance of family, and purpose.

First off, for anyone who is going into this movie without too much context, it is not a romance. I originally went into to film blind. The only context I had was the poster, which on its own, is a bit misleading.This is a movie about a very broken man suddenly being met with the challenge of becoming his nephew's guardian who is 17 years old. There is a lot here I don't want to spoil so that is all I will say about the story. This story is many things, but it isn't awe inspiring. Its delivery is very subtle and well paced. The layers of this film are revealed in pieces creating a clearer picture of the protagonist and why he is the way he is as the film moves along. Many will think this is slow paced. I did not. A big part of that is the acting.

The acting here is life-like. None of these characters feel as if they are being acted. They feel like real people I could potentially meet in my life. Nothing seems overdone. Anyone who is taking acting seriously should take a concentrated look at what Casey Affleck has done here. So much of what he goes through in this movie bothers him so much, it seems like he could explode at any given moment. There is just so much bottled inside this character that is kept from everyone in his life. If you are a fan character studies, this is should be a must watch.

Stylistically, there isn't much to say. The cinematography is done very well for the type of movie this is, but it isn't unique. The movie is meant to feel real, so naturally, that extends to the aesthetic.

What is done differently is the score. There is a lot of melancholic classical music at play here, but what is a very nice touch is the sound that is audible when the score is active. There are multiple scenes that show moments where the protagonist is annoyed. As the score plays, the sounds irritating the protagonist bleed into the track. I do not have anger issues, but I have been through many moments in life where a specific sound that is made by someone else becomes particularly irritating and if it goes on for long enough, it seems like the sound they are making is the only one I can hear. The simulation of that is done perfectly in this film. It also helps that the score is very well done in general. Not something I'd go out of my way to obtain, but very fitting for this movie.

Ultimately, I believe this is a phenomenal film. Everything feels life like and characters are very well realized. I've read reviews of people saying the protagonist basically ended exactly where he started which I find ridiculous. Its like some people are on Instagram and snapchat while watching this. I can get completely immersed in a motion picture. Whether its a game like Red Dead Redemption II or a movie such as this one, great stories draw me in, so I'm not doing anything else while I'm watching something very well made. If you have a short attention span, or need a movie to be motivating or awe inspiring, this isn't for you. Otherwise, this is a strong recommendation. This really might be a 10/10 for me.
12 people found this helpful
Christina ReynoldsReviewed in the United States on November 29, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Embraces Reality - The good, the bad, and the ugly
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“It’s not a crime to not put a screen on the fire place”
“That’s it? I’m free to go?”

Manchester by the Sea is a 2016 American drama film written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, and stars Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, and Lucas Hedges. The plot follows a man who, after his brother dies, is entrusted with the care of his teenage nephew.

if I must be brutally honest about the pace of this film I think it's important to know as an audience member that the speed at which it moves a develops - especially at the beginning - is remarkably slow. it would be unfair how to say this film at times is boring because its intent is not to be particularly exciting but investing a substantial amount of time to infer the director's choice in making this film is required. I didn't start liking this movie until exactly 55 minutes and 23 seconds into it ( but, who's counting, right?). This moment is preceded by a series of flashbacks and the obvious point of contention (Lee’s brother passing away). You may spend a lot of time asking yourself - “What is the point??” - and then it will suddenly smack you clear across the face with an measurable amount of intensity. This forces the audience to understand and appreciate the complexity of the plot without being engaged because of pity or curiosity.

Casey Affleck was awarded with both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his performance in this film; Well deserved, Affleck nails this role as someone who is struggling with a large amount of guilt and trauma; his silence Is deafening and matched with body language that speaks for itself. The chemistry between Affleck and Hedges display as actors and characters is palpable and is considerably authentic given the overarching context in which their relationship exists and inevitably changes over time. The gair in which the metaphorically hammering gap between them slowly starts to become smaller feels remarkably realistic and is bound to resonate with unsuspecting audience members.

Perhaps one of the best things about this film is the manner in which it concludes; it would have been easier to end on a note that dangerously drowning in optimism, but It instead ends On a point of neutrality instead. Not only will this compel emotion out of viewers that can empathize, but it serves as a reminder that life doesn’t always come prepared with the happy endings that are fantasized about. When all is said and done, we are left with a man that is still struggling to find his place in the world when all that gave him meaning was ripped away from him. We are left with a man that puts his pride aside and asks for help when it is needed. We’re left with a man that is willing to admit his shortcomings and acknowledge the insecurities that drive his behavior.

This is one of those films that feels easy to connect to in a way that can’t possibly be put into words (So, I’m not going to try). I cried, and quite frankly, there really wasn’t anything in this film that was particularly sad in the moment it was happening.
Be patient.
Be slowly absorbed by the suffering of the main character.

A highly recommend experience!
5 people found this helpful
BooksalottleReviewed in the United States on July 12, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Deserved To Be Best Picture Winner at 89th Academy Awards
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I will like to preface my review by saying that If I had been an academy voting member for the 89th Academy Awards, I would have voted for 'Manchester By The Sea' to win the best picture Oscar. In addition, I cannot stress enough how much Casey Affleck deserved his win as best actor for this film. A lot of films are made: some are great, some are crap and others are so so. Once in a while, a masterful gem comes along that is exceptional. So exceptional that it guts you raw, thrashes your heart about with chilling emotion, then cocoons you with its humanity and forwardness. I tend to watch movies as if I were a paid film critic and rarely does a film meet my criterion for perfection. 'Manchester By The Sea' did. So much so, it stuck with me, and is still with me after time has passed.

The film tells the story of Lee Chandler, played superbly by Affleck, who in a self imposed exile in Boston, returns to his hometown of Manchester-By-The-Sea. He returns to sort out some very tough decisions and unwanted responsibilities he does not feel he is ready to take up, after he receives news that his brother has died. More importantly, he returns to face a very dark past he feels he has not begun to heal from. As the story unfolds in flashbacks, we see in vivid, cerebral details, why Lee left town in the first place. In scenes that had me in tears, we find out that Lee is no longer in Manchester-by-the-Sea due to a gut-wrenching, life changing event that happened with his own family. An event that was due to direct and indirect actions of his own doing. Lee's actions from that fateful night hang over him like a one ton weight, wracking him with guilt and grief. The magnificent and gorgeous Michelle Williams plays his previously despondent but still grieving wife Randi; Kyle Chandler, in what I feel should have been a best supporting actor nomination, plays Lee's brother, Joe; and Lucas Hedges plays his horny, coming of age, funny, but smart nephew, Patrick.

Without giving too much else to the plot so as not to give away spoilers, I will simply say this film is superb! There were so many scenes that made my heart dropped, with my eyes wide open and welled with tears. Two in particular: one in the police station after being questioned by police, but still reeling from despair, Lee attempts a split second, impulsive act that he had to be restrained from. A second scene, between Lee and Randi, as they attempt to, but can barely talk about healing and forgiveness, after that fateful event changed their lives. My heart was in pieces watching both scenes, so much so that I had to rewind each scene three times, as I could barely contain myself with emotion.

'Manchester By The Sea' has some very serious, somber, thought-provoking themes. Themes that may be hard to reconcile if you the viewer were to imagine being in similar situations in your own life. One thing I will say to all viewers who will watch this film: don't judge the characters, especially not Lee. Don't assume a stance of moral superiority because you are the viewer. Events like those in the film, with characters who are flawed but worth saving, like Lee, definitely exist in our daily lives. We have all right to be angry, and we have all right to be unwilling to forgive. We also have all right to admonish them. However, think of the pain, and the heavy load of contrition that they bare every day. Like Lee, they themselves feel that no act of penitence or redemption will ever suffice. With such self-imposed imprisonment of their own minds and their hearts, we are left simply to ask ourselves: is that not justice enough for them? Maybe, maybe not, but it is worth thinking about. Personally, I know where I stand when it comes to pondering forgiveness. Still, 'Manchester By The Sea' has left me thinking about it more, that it is not very cut and dry, or black and white. The grey area is where humanity lies.

Highly, highly, highly recommended. Five stars out of five for the acting, the story, the direction, the cinematography, et al. Top notch film making on all fronts.
5 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on August 30, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
Incredible and Sad
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It was a beautiful elegy of sorrow and loss. I would give five stars except that I was emotionally spent after watching it that I can probably only watch once. It is a movie that will stay with you, and could be emotionally draining in the cathartic nature of the story. The undercurrent of emotion is kept back by Affleck, and it breaks the surface in distinct moments, and allows a relief to the audience, yet much of the emotional acting is done so subtly that you almost don't get a full relief, making it more true to life than pure cathartic release. Great, but intense for this reason. Caution if you are struggling with issues of loss and trauma.
Rishant DuttReviewed in the United States on May 17, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
People are wrong, the message here is hope, it's just not thrown in your face
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Plenty of people are calling it a morose and suggesting that Lee doesn't go through any transformation as a character through the course of the movie, thus concluding that the movie just ends in despair and hence propagates a hopelessness. I would suggest such people to go back and really watch the film again.

Lee starts out as a person full of pain and loathing, because of his actions. The knowledge that his carelessness and naivety led to the death of his children, people he was responsible for and definitely felt responsible for, weighs him down as an anchor. He is unable to move forward with his life as he is unable to forgive himself and there isn't anything he can do to fix the past, no matter how hard he tries. Like clockwork he is reminded of the past and the guilt, shame and anger (at his helplessness) surfaces and his only outlet is to act out, get in fights, be beaten, almost as an act of self-retribution.

The movie starts where it does because, as soon as his brother dies, he's left responsible for his nephew, it may not be a responsibility he welcomes (mostly because if his past), and it definitely isn't something his nephew, Patrick, wants either (at least to begin with). But even though Lee is uncomfortable with the situation he definitely feels responsible for Patrick and is trying his best to look after him, thus finding a new outlet and a new means for atonement for his past mistakes. Even Patrick realizes that Lee cares deeply about him and thus towards the end he asks him to stay.

The message here is very clear, the only way for Lee to move forward with his life is to take responsibility for someone else and do his best to not let them down, as opposed to taking out his anger on himself. That's exactly what he's headed towards, he decides to move closer to Patrick and even asks him to visit regularly. He still isn't able to put his past completely behind him but the healing process has certainly began. When he watches Patrick smiling on the boat, catching fish with his girlfriend, the one Lee thinks is better for him, he smiles too.

The movie is trying to tell us that the only way to move forward in life and not be weighed down by the guilt of our past mistakes is to pay the debt forward, you can't change what's happened but if you can find the courage to put yourself in a similar situation, and manage to not fail again, you can find some peace and start moving forwards with your life.
Ethan SeegardReviewed in the United States on February 25, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Tragedy, Agony and Love, Radiant and Moving Acting from the Cast
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It seems that one either loves or hates this film. I'm one that loves it. Let me say first that I've a few reservations about the lack of a moral compass in the film. Lee, the tragic character, caused great unhappiness not only to himself but to all in his extended family. And he caused the death of his three daughters. Let's face it, he was drinking, smoking pot and sniffing cocaine when he decided to light a fire to warm up the house, warmer especially for his kids on the second floor where it was cold. He loves his kids, no doubt about it. And he made a fatal mistake when he made the fire in the hearth by not putting up the screen to prevent logs rolling. Had he been more sober, he likely would've remember the screen, but as he said himself he was wiped out when he set off to the minimart for more alcohol at three in the morning.
In Greek tragedy the protagonist possesses a fatal flow that causes his downfall, but with Lee it had nothing to do with an intrinsic flaw: but
he surely made a tragic mistake. Bad things can indeed happen to good people, and Lee is basically a good person. We see his goodness in his treatment of his nephew. In the beginning he's adamant about taking his nephew to Quincy where Lee lives, but the boy doesn't want to leave Manchester, the center of his life, where he goes to school, has two girlfriends and many friends. He's also on the hockey team and plays in the band. Lee and the boy fight over leaving Manchester. Gradually Lee sees his nephew through the lens of his love for him. In the end he is able to arrange for Patrick to live in Manchester. His efforts prove his love for Pat. Even though he will live in Boston, he will have
an apartment with an extra room because he wants to keep his connection with his nephew. The last shot of the movie shows the two sitting on the boat fishing, and one gathers by this last scene that the two will always be close.

As to the acting, every actor in this film give his best. Casey is superb. He could've over-acted because what happened to him is an over-
the- top tragedy, the "killing" of his three daughters. No father would ever get over such a thing. Casey instinctively knows that he must, as
an actor, reign himself in. In this he reminds me of Spencer Tracy. Tracy even in his most emotional roles knew that in acting, as in most arts, "less is more."
And Casey brilliantly underscores this truth about art. When he does exhibit emotion, and I think of two scenes. he's superb. When he gazes upon the dead body of his brother in the morgue, the stoic mask falls off as he first touches his brother's body with his hand, then he bends down to hug the body and finally he kisses his brother. It's a film pieta. I was moved. Then later in the film, after his meeting his former wife,
when she tells him that she still loves him and is sorry for the terrible things she had said to him, it's too much for him, and he walks away to a bar where he gets himself into a brawl. At George's house he finally breaks down and weeps. We've been waiting this release of tears, and it's powerful.
His acting is worthy of an Academy Award nomination.
Michelle Williams' performance is one of great sensitivity. And let me not forget the young man, Lucas Hedges, who plays Patrick. He strives in every scene to match Casey. And he does. They both complement each superbly. And in the last scene when Lee says "I can't beat it" Patrick begins to cry, and Lee stands up from the dinner table and embraces his nephew. The embrace to me is eloquent, an expression of unconditional love. A great, sensitive film about tragedy and love.
I received the DVD on time, and I had no problems with it. I'm happy my purchase.
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