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  • 5/5
Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Grief remains one of cinema's favourite subjects. There's something about loss and pain that simply lends itself to cinematic storytelling. In many ways this does conform to the archetypal artistic moniker of sadness translating to creative beauty.

However, Manchester by The Sea by writer-director Kenneth Lonergan is different. There's no beauty in the loss felt by Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) in this film. A loss so unspeakably painful that trying to romanticize it for the sake of art would have been a travesty unto the suffering felt by him.

The film narrates the events following the death of his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) and his subsequent guardianship of Joe's son Patrick (Lucas Hedges).

The death of his brother in many ways reluctantly forces Lee to come out of a self imposed shell he has built for himself - arising out of the tragedy that he has experienced a long time ago and is still grappling with today.

In many ways this film could have turned out to be a cliched Hollywood drama of a man who has been knocked down far too many times before who finally gets the strength to persevere and succeed after being charged with being responsible for another human. However this is no such film.

Lonergan refuses to make Patrick a simple rebellious teenage boy or someone deeply depressed over the loss of his father. Instead Patrick seemingly manages to carry on with life as it always was - juggling girlfriends and doing his best to live life. That's not to say that he doesn't grieve over the loss of his father - however much like Lee, it's a silent, solemn mourning - in many ways a deeply personal and private emotion that the two seem to share and bond over without overtly expressing it.

In many ways the movie is a mediation on grief in the realest sense of the word and in a fashion true to form, it doesn't show a hero rising from the ashes of despair to achieve glory.

It shows a janitor who's had everything stripped from him emotionally still continue with his life - sweeping and cleaning because life doesn't stop even if it may seem like it has. Here lies the true beauty in the film - not in the grief itself, but in its acceptance of it and willingness to bear it.

5/5

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