By Andrew Russell / LifeAtStart.com Reporter
Manchester by the Sea is one of the movies from 2016 that I knew I had to see.
I’ve seen no trailers or promotional material for the film at all, and the only way I know about it is because of YouTubers I watch recommending it. However, in the very few instances of me talking to someone who’s seen it after I found out about it, or getting an opinion or two off of YouTube, the one thing that is maintained by everyone is that it’s depressing.
Manchester by the Sea is supposed to be the most soul crushing movie of last year. It’s supposed to make me hate myself and despise life. I was guaranteed by multiple individuals that I would cry during the film, and that it’s apparently something of a modern tragedy.
So, all that being said, Manchester by the Sea is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen from last year. It’s two main characters, Lee and Patrick, are hilariously human. The dialogue they share together is the best of the film, and their personalities clash in ways that’s believable and relatable.
Now, while generally speaking, calling what’s supposedly a hard hitting drama that displays the struggles of human life funny and enjoyable to watch is considered negative. In Manchester by the Sea, though, the drama is still starkly present. I wouldn’t call this a comedy at all, but for some reason the movie formulated into something beautifully human and genuine in its portrayal of its characters. I think that the comedy, all of which comes from the simplistic reactions of the characters to certain things that are dark, depressing, and for some of them involved is life changing, functions as a kind of catharsis to said tragedy.
I think that the chief tragedy that is shown in the film is the core of the main character Lee, and that the more recent tragedy that he currently finds himself in works as the plot. So, when you have a movie whose foundation is built on death and misery, any time there’s comedy it’ll seem like much more than perhaps is there. I think this also works vice versa with the comedy being the foundation of certain dialogues but the drama being the real takeaway.
After explaining that, I think it’s kind of a shame that Manchester by the Sea is only being described as literally the most depressing thing anyone’s ever seen ever. I haven’t heard much about Casey Affleck, Ben Affleck’s younger brother you didn’t know was a good actor, who plays Lee Chandler and who gives the best performance I’ve seen of 2016. Patrick Chandler, who’s played by Lucas Hedges, also gives a great a performance and is the majority of what I meant by funnily real and human portrayals.
Going off topic for a moment, Hedges plays the kid in Moonrise Kingdom who gets stabbed by lefty scissors, and the girl who stabbed him with the scissors is the same actress whom Hedges has sex with in Manchester by the Sea. That’s… Poetic justice? I don’t know, but it’s definitely something. I just thought it was weird.
Maybe the drama is truly the most impactful thing in the movie and I found comedy simply because of the circumstances I found myself in while watching it. There was a lady in front of me who would audibly “oo” and “aw” at every dramatic moment, breaking the swell of emotions I was feeling. I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t cry, and I completely blame her for it. I think I fell victim to expectation as well, which isn’t usually something that happens for a movie you’ve never even seen a trailer for.
I give Manchester by the Sea a “hey, that was a pretty good one” on a scale of “don’t watch this movie” to “man, I sure wish I could watch that movie for the first time again.”
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