“Uncle Lee, are you fundamentally unsound?”Patrick
A moving character study in unresolved grief, Manchester by the Sea is not easy to watch but is a powerful example of a particular emotional catharsis unique to cinema. Kenneth Lonergan has only directed three films in 20 years, though I immediately loved his 2000 debut, the understated sibling drama You Can Count on Me. As that film demonstrated, his skill as a writer and as a director is drawing the audience into a space where we can understand and empathise with people making bad decisions and hurting others whilst trying their best. This occurs through both actions and dialogue, Lonergan’s writing reflecting people’s insular thought process, only realising the impact of their choice of words after they collide with other people. The stellar cast are uniformly excellent, though the script’s focus on Lee and his nephew does a slight disservice to the female characters. Nevertheless, as raw and emotional human drama, Manchester by the Sea is heartbreaking and beautiful.