Manchester By the Sea (without hyphens)

DATELINE: Hyphenated Town


Back on the Nawth Showah of Boston, we always included hyphens when speaking of hoity-toity Manchester-by-the-Sea. The Chamber of Commerce should not be taking any accolades for this depressing view of the real-life charming seaside community.

The story of an exiled native son (gone to Quincy where no-lifers find refuge), Lee Chandler must return to Manchester upon the sudden death of his elder brother. There, to his shock, Chandler is given custody of a recalcitrant teenager, his nephew. Lucas Hedges gives a solid performance in the role.

Casey Affleck deserves every inch of his Best Actor award. He was never fully recognized as Bob Ford in the Brad Pitt/Jesse James film a few years back. Here he exudes emotional dissipation.

The sullen Affleck lives a life of quiet desperation as a janitor. Returning home brings with it a flood of depressing memories. When the strands of Albinoni’s “Adagio in G Minor” strike up for ten minutes or more, you know you have gone over the edge into suicidal storyline.

Director Kenneth Lonergan has chosen cold and raw days of early spring to showcase Manchester-by-the-Sea at its most dismal and barren look.

Asked by a fan if this was a sad movie, we strongly disagree. This movie is beyond Freud’s melancholia. As you recall from Ordinary People with Mary Tyler Moore, everyone reacts to death in his own way—and sometimes it is bizarre and incomprehensible.

Manchester by the Sea suffuses catharsis with dead accuracy.