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Manchester By The Sea (2016) Movie Review

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

You cannot describe Manchester By The Sea without mentioning its powerful emotional rollercoaster experience. The film circulates grief, depression, guilt, and others.

It isn't easy to describe what this film feels like. We can view it as depressing melancholia or something that will uplift us when we are feeling down.

Many critics know Manchester By The Sea to be one of the best films from the 2010s.

Plot Overview

We follow Lee Chandler, a depressed janitor who lives alone in a basement apartment in Massachusetts. One day, he receives a phone call informing him that his brother, Joe, a fisherman, suffered from cardiac arrest. Lee decides to go and visit his brother but dies before he arrives.

Lee decides to inform his brother's son, Patrick, about his father's death. He also helps in making funeral arrangements. However, they were told that Joe's body could not be buried until spring because the ground was frozen. Lee decides to stay in his brother's house in Manchester with Patrick until the funeral ends.

Lee meets with Joe's attorney to discuss his will. He is shocked when he discovers he will become Patrick's legal guardian. Lee believes he is not ready to be a guardian because of the traumatizing event he experienced. After a house party he organized, an intoxicated Lee forgot to place a screen on their fireplace, leading to their house burning and his children's deaths. He was absolved of criminal charges, but his depression increased when his wife divorced him.

Lee wants Patrick to move to Boston, but he has grown attached to the Manchester community. Lee learns that Patrick intends to live with his estranged mother, Elise. He does not approve of this because of her history of alcoholism, which led to abandoning them when they were young. As the funeral gets closer, Lee must decide whether to let Patrick stay with his mother or come with him to Boston.


Manchester By The Sea is a powerful movie that elevated the talents of Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, and other supporting artists.

There is no doubt this film brought in the emotional bomb. It's a heart-wrenching story mixed with awesome performances from the actors. Describing what the film needs is tough, but it's a must-see.

I like the subtleness performance of Casey Affleck. He really dug deep into his role and maintained a monotonic character that you feel his sadness and pain throughout the film. It's a no-brainer why he won the Best Actor award because he nailed this very well.

Manchester By The Sea is shot to show its depressing emotions. The film has minimal vibrant colors, and its pale, sometimes bright palette combines with our characters.

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