Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea


I know this movie came out a while ago but I really wanted to write a review because, in my opinion, it was one of the most overrated movies of this award season.

I was curious to watch it because of the response it got from the critics, Casey Affleck won an Academy Award for this movie and so did Kenneth Lonergan, the director/screenwriter who won the Academy Award for best original screenplay. This is why I believed it was going to be a really good movie but I was disappointed. I have to say that I usually like movies about people dealing with loss or grief, but this one didn’t move me at all.

The movie is the story of a janitor named Lee (Casey Affleck), who has to go back to his hometown Manchester-by-the-sea after the sudden death of his brother Joe. Once there he has to take care of his teenage nephew Patrick and deal with his past.

Lucas Hedges, the young actor who plays Patrick, was really good. I liked him more than Casey Affleck. I don’t know if it was just his character or his acting but I don’t think he reached the emotional depth that his role required, except maybe in the scene with Michelle Williams (the scene from the movie poster). That is probably the scene that holds the whole movie together and they are both great in it. It is probably the one scene where I really liked his acting. For the rest of the movie though his performance was mostly flat and that is why I was a bit disappointed.

Lucas Hedges, on the other hand, plays his role with more intensity, that’s why I liked him better. As a side note, I was happy to see Kara Hayward, who plays Silvie, one of Patrick’s friends. I didn’t know she was in the movie and I loved her in Wes Andreson’s Moonrise Kingdom, so it was a pleasant surprise to see her again. I didn’t remember it, but I later found out that Lucas Hedges was also in Moonrise Kingdom (He has grown up a lot!).

Michelle Williams has a small but relevant part, she plays Randi, Lee’s ex-wife. All the scenes where she is in are crucial in the movie, and even if she does not have a lot of them, she nails every single one. Kyle Chandler who plays Lee’s brother is also very good, even though he does not have a lot of scenes as well.

I feel like going a bit against the tide after reading all the positive reviews this movie received, some even call it a masterpiece. And yes, there were some powerful scenes but in the end, the movie didn’t quite convince me.

Lastly, on top of it all, I was also a disappointed by the ending, it wasn’t what I was expecting and it left me a bit unsatisfied.