Manchester by the Sea

Director – Kenneth Lonergan
Written by – Kenneth Lonergan
Genre – Drama
Released Year – 2016
Starring – Cassey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges
Produced By – Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck, Kevin J. Walsh
Cinematography – Jody Lee Lipes
Music by – Lesley Barber

The film explores the themes of depression, guilt, grief, responsibility, dysfunctional families and post-traumatic disorder. It revolves around a grief-stricken lonely man who becomes the legal guardian of his teenage nephew after the death of his brother.

Lee Chadler (Cassey Affleck) is a depressed and asocial janitor living in a basement apartment in Qunicy, Massachusetts. One day, he suddenly receives a call informing him that his older brother, Joe – a fisherman who lives in Manchester by the sea – has suffered from a cardiac arrest. Joe dies before Lee’s arrival and he discovers that Joe has named Lee as Patrick’s (Lee’s Nephew) legal guardian.

Lee who’s with a traumatic past, where his three children in marriage to Randi, his ex-wife (Michelle Williams) died of a house fire as he forgot to put the screen in front of the fireplace, is hesitant to take on the task as it requires him to move back to Manchester. Whereas on the other hand Patrick being a teenager stubbornly refuses to leave his hometown as he has strong ties to the Manchester Community.

Unable to overcome himself in Manchester, Lee makes plans to leave for Boston and Patrick is to be adopted by Joe’s good friend, George. When Patrick asks Lee why he cannot remain in Manchester, Lee says that he ‘can’t beat it.’

Manchester by the Sea received six nominations at the 89th Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Affleck), Best Supporting Actor (Hedges), Best Supporting Actress (Williams) and Best Original Screenplay, winning two for Best Original Screenplay for Lonergan and Best Actor for Affleck. It was the first film released by a digital streaming service to be nominated for Best Picture. Affleck won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama, and the film was nominated for four additional awards at the 74th ceremony: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (for Williams) and Best Screenplay.

“Some things in life pass you by, maybe tragic or mistakes or rather tragic mistakes but sometimes while fighting to live through them, we are unable to ‘beat them.’”

Following are some of the words that you might find watching the film that would help you to improve your English vocabulary.

1. Cardiac arrest – A sudden, sometimes temporary, cessation of the heart’s functioning
2. Janitor – A person employed to look after a building (caretaker)
3. Depressed – Sad/ unhappy
4. Asocial – Avoiding social interactions
5. Stubborn – Inflexible/ wilful
6. Alcoholism – Addiction to the consumption of alcohol
7. Sobriety – Clear-headedness
8. Re-establish – Begin or create again
9. Remorse – Feelings of guilt
10. Burial service – A short ceremony held after the main funeral service as the coffin is lowered into the ground


Reviewed by: Jetha Nanayakkare, Visakha Vidyalaya, Colombo 

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