“Manchester by the Sea”, directed by Kenneth Lonergan, is a movie situated between comedy and drama, wherein humour here is neither obvious nor very optimistic. It appears in hopelessness as a remedy on total detachment and indifference. The director turns out to be a virtuoso of emotions, who understands both – power of silence and potential of scream.
The story seems to be extremely simple. Lee (amazing Casey Affleck) – a lonely, detached man – works as a plumber. He doesn’t get along with human interactions, so beer is his best company for relaxing evenings. One day his brother’s heart stops beating and Lee is forced to take her of Kyle’s teenaged son, Patrick (very good Lucas Hedges). It’s easy to guess that being a guardian is not Lee’s dreamed activity, but he tries to respect a will of a man that he loved with all his sceptic heart. The brilliancy of Lonergan’s movie doesn’t lie in the narrative scheme, but in affects and emotions that busts the plot. The director slowly reveals sources of the protagonist’s solitude and sadness that sometimes can be wrongly taken as a psychopathic indifference. Not only Lee hides traumas that make his life unbearable. Patrick’s story is also written by grief and regrets, which he tries to drown out by performing coolness.
“Manchester by the Sea” is a movie about life that is always different than our plans and scripts; about responsibility and costs of living after personal catastrophes that turn existence into a living hell; about forgiving what seems to be unforgivable; about waking up every morning against the desire for death, and – last but not least – about bouncing off the bottom. The director is focusing on the mechanisms of guilt and mourning to construct a picture of firmness of human soul and ability to live with a heart that was smashed in million pieces that will never stop bleeding.
The story is extremely sad, but the director stays away from martyrdom. Dramatic reminisces from Lee’s life are intertwined with brilliant, humorous dialogues from here and now. 40-year-old uncle and his teenage nephew are a half comic and half tragic couple of guys who feel for each other as much irritation as love. The director reveals funny parts of loneliness, but he doesn’t turn into a pathetic joke. Lonergan proposes the movie that is calm, focused, but very intense at the same time. “Manchester by the Sea” tells the story of light that was found in darkness. What’s important, reflections managed to make the protagonists’ life more bearable, but didn’t blur out traumas and nightmarish memories. It’s a very realistic movie that doesn’t need typical tear-jerker’s tricks to truly move its audience.