By Hannah Rogers
Any review can tell you that Lee Chandler is a sulky, short-tempered janitor with a mysterious past, who receives a call that his brother has passed away suddenly, and is now the legal guardian of his sixteen-year-old nephew, Patrick. The close bond that they share is established in the first scene of the film, making it seemingly obvious that Chandler should be able to endure the responsibility. But as the story progresses, it’s clear that Manchester’s tides hold an immense, heart-wrenching sorrow that overcomes Lee, proving it a difficult task to take on. That being said, let us delve right into the highly visceral journey of this film. It aches with complexity. Lee, a seemingly simple character, longs to voice his unspoken afflictions. The enigma that is his past seems trivial at the beginning, considering the limitless possibilities of his situation. But as his gripping, tormented story is unveiled piece by piece, the quality and emotional intensity of the film deepens. The brevity of dialogue is what makes the movie so profound and contemplative. His confession, “I just can’t beat it,” says it all, encompassing the pain and love and tragedy of the story in one, effortless expression. While Manchester by the Sea offers occasional relief– at times paired with ridiculous humor– it never creates a sense of healing, and could be said to end in muddled emotion. The constant dipping back and forth through past events is sometimes frustrating, but a genuine portrayal of the everyday suffering experienced of those who have undergone immense trauma. This movie broke my heart, refined my thoughts, and hit me in a very human way. If you’re ready to withstand such an emotionally brimful experience, I guarantee that Manchester by the Sea is the furthest thing from hollow.