By Chloe Darnaud
Lee Chandler is a handyman. He throws out the trash, cleans toilets, and repairs bathroom leaks. He lives alone is his small apartment in Boston and doesn’t interact with others much. When he does, he ends up either insulting his own clients or picking up fights with strangers at bars. As the story unfolds, cleverly inserted flashbacks reveal the reasons of his self-confinement. The first dive into his troubled past occurs in the elevator of a hospital, when Lee learns about his brother Joe’s death, leaving him in charge of Patrick, his 16-year-old socially active nephew.
The film slowly reveals the hidden emotions of the both the boy and his new guardian recovering from their loss. An atmosphere that goes well with the constant snow and cold of Manchester-by-the-Sea. Kenneth Lonergan, brilliantly explores with his third film how certain events can throw you back in the past with incredible violence. Digging out the snow, shovel by shovel. The film is tragically realistic, the deaths and troubled past around the Chandler family are by no means glamorised. There is a real veracity of loosing a relative, the scenes are pragmatic, they go see the body at the hospital morgue, they make funeral arrangements and visit Joe’s notary.
“Long awkward silences cadence the film and certain scenes are agonising to watch.”
Going beyond words, the connection between the two is stirring. Joe’s funeral is filmed in slow motion accompanied by a chorale, as a glimpse at the surrealism of memorial services. Recurrent jump shots and cut frames adds to the realism of the movie. Long awkward silences cadence the film and certain scenes are agonising to watch. By the end, you will get so attached to the characters, you won’t want to let them go. It is only at the very end of the credits that for the first time you hear the Manchester sea.