Manchester by the tissues

Yep. grab your tissues

Every now and then you sit down and watch a film and all of a sudden, you’re watching yourself. I guess that tells us more about ourselves than the movie huh? Although it can actually be painful, I can appreciate this act of opening up wounds of my own while experiencing a script on screen. Manchester by the sea directed by Kenneth Lonergan is one of those movies (1).

The start of Manchester by the sea is a bit unpredictable as we watch what seems to be a single and life- less Lee Chandler (Casey Aflack) live is life as a miserable Plummer. Chandler not only hates his life and job but he gets depressed and angry and he will indeed start a ridiculous bar fight after a few drinks yeah, he’s that guy (2). Things heat up Chandler gets a call to go down to Manchester where he learns that his brother has died from a cardiac arrest attack. There’s a few important things in this scene. You’ll notice a very awkward conversation between dad and Chandler and it’s revealed that he does have an ex-wife.

The movie is cinematically filled with intense flashbacks that teach us so much of Chandlers late brother, his son Patrick and Chandler’s life before his current situation.

There’s one flash back of all three guys Chandler, his late brother and nephew Patrick which warms us up a bit. Chandler and his brother are teasing young Patrick about sharks and getting attacked as they fish on a boat.

We also see flashbacks of Chandler’s drinking and drug issues.

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As the family starts to make for funeral arrangements Chandler steps in to make most decisions and watch out for his nephew Patrick. Their relationship is a bit estranged, Patrick being a full time teen (3) and Chandler just barely holding on to life. We learn that Chandler is a town celebrity for a reason not revealed to us until later. Chandler ex-wife reaches out to chandler to ask if she can attend the funeral and to tell him that she married AND pregnant. This information isn’t significant until we learn why Chandler is a household name in Manchester.

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The Cinematic flash back that changes things and literally broke my heart was the reveal that Chandler’s drinking caused him to forget he had the woodfire on which led to a huge fire with 3 of small children dead, his ex-wife was the only person who made it out. After this we see a lot of deep(4) themes brought up, of course more depression, suicide attempts, parenting skills, forgiveness, how people deal with life and so much more. As if this movie can make your heart sink anymore, there’s a scene where Chandler and his ex-wife have a conversation face to face or face to pregnant belly about their past and it’s a lot to watch.

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There’s so many heavy things explored within this movie but what I appreciate most is the rawness, even though there is so much within the movie, there’s no cliché happy ending that warms us up. It’s shows us that life goes on regardless without sugar coating a realistically relatable tuff life.

In a way, Chandler is a strong man, a lousy strong man but non-the less a strong man and here’s why. If I was in his shoes I don’t think I would be able to go on in life at all. I probably would have made sure I pulled the trigger. Chandler’s ex-wife extends forgiveness, I always wonder if people like Chandler deserve that type of redemption. Do people like Chandler deserve people like his ex-wife, who after everything forgave him? do they deserve another shot at life, love, opportunity?

  • Those movies- the kind of movies you watch totally underestimating it’s power to completely turn you into your 5 year old emotional self.
  • That guy- the drunken jerk who mistakes the bar for the anger management office
  • Full time teen- that time in your life when you only give a shit about yourself and your friends
  • Deep- very emotional close to home things that move you emotionally

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