Lee Chandler is a loner dull handyman in a small sea town near Essex. After divorce with wife Randi and the loss of his two sons and the demise of his brother Joe by heart attack, he starts with his nephew Patrick a sad substantial survivor bustle in struggle with life and existence…
Like Paris, Texas, the big postmodern road-movie made in 1984 by german new-cinema master Wim Wenders, the eponymous Manchester of the title can get the viewer confused about the real location of this brilliant day-by-day (mis)adventure of Casey Affleck, the ideal alter-ego of director Kenneth Lonergan.
This is, in fact, the sometimes snowy Manchester ‘by-the-sea’ of Massachusetts, so not the soccer-famous clangorous major-city of England, but a quiet stars-and-stripes village where the camera moves politely well in synergy with the slow-paced life of Lee-Affleck the fisherman-plumber-trash man of a non-Trump oriented U.S.A.
Like the aforementioned philosophical wave of the ‘70s and the doubtful spectator in worldwide theaters, the protagonist of Manchester by the Sea is, more precisely, a fragmented depressed not-a-hero guy brilliantly played by the controversial little brother of the Devilman-Batman Ben Affleck. Not casually present for this role with his superb oscar-winning acting Casey is the other side of the Affleck-family and Hollywood in a time where the box-office rule is bombastic CGI comic-movie for teens and families. The intimate docu-drama of Lonergan seems to be perfect for him and his tense acting.
Depicting a neo-realist journey through the un-epic course of life where family-roots risks to dissolve in ashes for a fatal accident.
In these terms Manchester by the Sea works like a cold non-redemption anti-american dream tale. A parable for the millennials’ generation floating, see open/ending scenes, circular ‘on the sea’ in the principle of anhedonia.
Condition emphasized by great cinematography of Jody Lee Pipes delivering superb interior lighting a-là Hopper paintings and astonishing natural landscapes for the national american museum of still-frame. Definitely art(istic)-alt(ernative)-cinema for art-alt-people.
Proud, heavy and indie. Like Lee and Patrick on the Claude-Marie boat, ideal symbol of this well-written small family-epopea story.