Manchester By The Sea

Death. Family. Adolescence. Sin. Redemption. Hidden secrets. So many heavy topics touched on in one film. When you think about it, it can overwhelm you.

I had read a positive review somewhere of Manchester by the Sea and was thinking about seeing it in the theatres, but I ran out of time. Then it received a pile of Academy Award nominations, so I was pleased to find it as featured entertainment on a recent flight.

Some excellent acting carries this film. (I wrote that on the plane – before Casey Affleck won the Oscar for best actor.) And, as someone who spends his annual vacation in Maine, I enjoyed the New England scenery. None of the actors seemed to be acting – every one was believable, a tribute not only to their skills but to a strong script.

That said, I did find the use of flashbacks jarring. They were essential to the plot, to my understanding of the characters, but they definitely interfered with the flow.

How do we deal with death? The bigger question for me from this film is how do we deal with death when we don’t know how to deal with life?

We are created with what Blaise Pascal described as a “God shaped hole,” and so many people don’t seem to grasp that. Hollywood for the most part just doesn’t see it. Which is why the people in this film are so unhappy. There is no place for God in their life. The hole is there, but they don’t know what to fill it with.

The foul language was a bit off-putting, but that is how people talk. Also annoying was the role of people of faith. The film is subtly anti-Christian.

The majority of the characters are Roman Catholic, but from their actions it seems to me they are more culturally Catholic than rooted in any meaningful faith. I’m not sure that most priests would condone the language and behaviour exhibited by these people. Or maybe I just don’t understand priests. And the only other Christians in the movie don’t come across very well.

Manchester by the Sea was well worth the viewing, even if it does leave you feeling a little empty.

I’m increasingly finding that I get that empty feeling when I watch films these days. Maybe it is Hollywood, or maybe it is the films that appeal to me. The latest action/comic book film doesn’t grab me. I’ve never watched a James Bond Film. I know that you probably feel good at the end of those because the plots are simple and the good guys always win. But they are more fantasy than anything else.

For better or worse, I am drawn to movies about people facing real problems. I just wish more people in Hollywood understood that there is hope and redemption for those willing to seek it. Life can be bleak, but not as bleak as they usually portray it.



  1. It does take tremendous courage to live a life without God. I’ve heard good things about both Lion and Arrival, but haven’t had the opportunity to see them yet. I’ve also heard good things about The Shack and hope to get to it soon.

    1. Inseason&out · · Reply

      I tried to read The Shack because a friend read it and want my opinion. I couldn’t get through it. I can’t get pass the representation of the God-head. And I read a very critical review of the movie, but I like to hear your review.

  2. InseasonNout · · Reply

    I don’t know how people can find hope apart from God. Those who do, it must take tremendous courage to stare reality in the eye and soldier on with no certainty that good will triumph and evil will be punished.

    I like to know what you think of Lion and Arrival. I heard positive things about these two. I don’t need to watch the depressing realistic ones – we are in it. May be that’s why we like Bond films.

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