Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, the film Manchester by the Sea portrays the story of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a janitor who is leading a lonely life. One day he is informed via phone that his older brother Joe has passed away. It was not something unexpected as Joe was suffering from congestive heart disease and was given a maximum of five to ten years to live. Lee now has to travel to Manchester, Massachusetts to oversee his brother’s succession and care for his teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges).
After reaching there, Lee knew something unexpected something through his brother’s will. He named him as the legal guardian of his son and arranged for his brother’s transfer to Manchester. As Lee’s troubled past in the film comes to light, it becomes clear why he felt the need to leave, isolate himself, and hide from people around him. Everything serves as a constant reminder of the truly awful events that prompted Lee to leave in the first place.
We see Lee unknowingly ending up in a place that he had always dreaded returning to. We learn about the cause of his trauma and the reasons why he wants to avoid Manchester at all costs. His three young children were killed when he unintentionally set his house on fire. Anyone could be haunted for years by the accident because it was so terrible. Lee loses all his will to live and after a failed suicide attempt, he fell into a deep depression and left the city, his marriage, and everything that reminded him of a tragic past. I won’t mention anything further about what will happen next.
The music, which includes both Barber’s original composition and a variety of songs and classical works, is flawlessly crafted and fits the film’s mood. The soundtracks are completely immersive, the dialogue is humorous and interesting.
Due to the way the movie is arranged, with multiple flashbacks that each disclose a little more about Lee’s past, there is a lot of mystery around his past for the majority of the film. Lee’s personality differs before and after a tragic house fire that caused him to become depressed. During these flashbacks, audio is used to convey to the audience that we are not in the present.
The film won two Academy Awards including Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role by Casey Affleck and Best Original Screenplay by Kenneth Lonergan. If you haven’t seen Manchester by the Sea yet, I can assure you that the story will always stay with you. It is remarkable and worth watching.