Synopsis: Lee Chandler is a brooding, irritable loner who works as a handyman for a Boston apartment block. One damp winter day he gets a call summoning him to his hometown, north of the city. His brother’s heart has given out suddenly, and he’s been named guardian to his 16-year-old nephew. As if losing his only sibling and doubts about raising a teenager weren’t enough, his return to the past re-opens an unspeakable tragedy. (via Wikipedia)
Get a box of Kleenex ready because this film is sure to make you cry….. the ugly kind.
*** Spoiler Alert ***
The beginning of the film follows Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a handyman who has zero fucks about his life. For the first 30 minutes or so, I was wondering “Is this going somewhere because he’s just an asshole, who is kind of a loner and this is boring”, and then, we finally get to see why Lee is the person that he is. Yes, he’s an asshole and a loner but more than anything he is numb. He is numb from the pain, for feeling the guilt of being irresponsible and the consequences from his actions causing the deaths of his young daughters.
For me, the story starts there. We know why Lee is detached from his family and friends. With the unexpected loss of his brother and becoming a guardian to his nephew is weighing on him. He feels that by becoming his guardian, he might also kill his nephew. Even though Lee did not kill his daughters, a quick moment of irresponsibly, one that I am sure we’ve all had, came at the highest price. After the reveal, Lee starts to struggle to keep his barriers up, trying to convince himself that maybe he can take care of his nephew but he just cannot shake the tragic loss of his daughters and ends up giving his guardianship to a family friend. He loves his nephew but wants the best for him and Lee knows that he is not the best guardian. He needs to truly find help himself and at the end of film, at least for me, Lee is opening up again and will possibly find the help he needs.
Although the film is depressingly sad and great at the same time, I don’t believe it should win Best Film. We’ve seen this story in some shape or form in the past BUT Michelle Williams truly deserves the Oscar for Best Female Actress. She only has about 20 minutes of total screen time in a 2 hour and 20 minute film. The scene where she tried to have a conversation with Lee about the loss of their daughters and her breakdown…. WOW!
I could really feel her pain. We’ve all known loss in some way, we know what that cry sounds like, and maybe she used her own loses as her reference, because her monologue was heartbreaking.
With all of that said, if you want to watch a very sad film that is sure to make you cry, then watch Manchester by the Sea. The acting is very real. Just keep the tissues handy.