Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea ★★★★★


I've been avoiding "Manchester by the Sea" for a very long time now, because 1.) I knew it was a movie which doesn't sugarcoats anything and would proably destroy me and 2.) I was intimidated how other people would react if I like a movie with a problematic actor, but then I told myself again that it doesn't matter in the end. Everyone should separate the art from real life.

So, I finally set down last night to commit myself to the 2016 drama starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges. And since I was in a film workshop this weekend and analyzed a scene from it, I couldn't wait any longer to experience this story about grief and loss myself. I knew that the overall plot was that Patrick (Lucas Hedges) lost his dad and has to move in with his uncle Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), who's still haunted from the past with his ex-wife (Michelle Williams). That alone is a very touching premise, but please be prepared something is revealed throughout the story that will completely leave you speechless and you won't really recover from it. It felt like someone was stabbing a knife in my chest and didn’t pulled it out afterwards.

I think the last movie where I felt this miserable was Roman Polanski's "The Pianist" and "Manchester by the Sea" took me to a quite similar emotional state. The enitre time I had a lump stuck in my throat and held in a scream because I was afraid I couldn't stop if I would ever begin with it. I wasn't even able to cry, because I was so wrapped up and the music made it even worse. My mind was blank, the only thing I could think about was "When does it finally stop? Can’t everyone be happy?". As you can tell, I was emotionally drained and not in a particularly good mood experiencing all this, but in the light of the day there is no denying what an achievement this film, the raw acting and the script is. And as shocking as the events in "Manchester by the Sea" were, they teached me one true thing: This movie showed the real life. That people really have to experience that kind of miserability.

And to me the utter humanity makes it a masterpiece. I allowed its weight to wash over me and carry me away with the character's emotions. I didn't just saw an Oscar winning performance - no, I saw a person, a real human being in Casey Afflek's portrayal. His emotions seemed real to me, it didn't felt like acting, just being and if we only speaking performance-wise this was the best performance out of 2016. I also want to point out that I really found it interesting how the other characters griefed (especially if you compare Casey Afflek to Lucas Hedges). So if you planning to watch it, keep an eye on that – the director really considered to show how different people deal differently with the same situation.

The use of the flashback is also highly helpful to the narrative. A lot of movies get lost with flashback sequences, but the flashback scenes here aren't confusing and don't hurt the flow of the film. Instead, they are vital to understand Casey Affleck's and Michelle Williams' relationship and that hurts the same way as the one in the 2010 movie "Blue Valentine" also starring Michelle Williams’ plus also Ryan Gosling.

I think everyone who lost a close family member or someone who was meaningful to them, will identify theirselves with those characters. I lost my grandma last summer and she was by far the most important person in my life. It still hurts and it probably will until the rest of my life, because she was like a second mother to me and we shared so many interests. Sometimes I feel a part of me died with her when she left us, they are days were I can deal with it quite professionally, but they are also times where even the thought of her hurts so much that I get a panic attack like Lucas Hedges' character in the movie.

On sad, dreary days like this it helps me to know that other people suffer from misery a similar way. Especially in the first state of loss I was a Lee Chandler myself, someone who felt separated from everyone else and felt some kind of pain that was very hard to emotionally handle. For some people Lee Chandler might be a douchebag and I don't want to encourage everything from this character's behavior, because he was cruel and harsh to his fellow creatures at some points, but I know how it feels like if everything's in life collapses for you and it's getting worse and worse and you don't know how to continue with that. But I still believe everyone can learn and grow from experiences like that. It might take a while, but as Prince once famously said "There’s always a rainbow at the end of every rain".

I don't know if I can deal with the emotional mess from this film ever again, but I bet it will be an eye-opening experience for every single person who watches it.

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