Hard times are a tough thing to live by, we all know this. Also, these challenges of life may seem hurtful and beyond our own comprehension because of our own weaknesses, so there has to be a proportion between the hard times and our own inability to live through them, right? I’m sensing that Manchester by the Sea is talking to us about this idea. How often crisis hits our life and becomes a problem just because of us not being prepared to face it. Further on, how many times it is us who create the crisis because of our own problems and weaknesses. The initial sequence of the movie presents us a familiar town engulfed in the first winter snows, a metaphor cleverly crafted to reflect a story about a man, who escaped family, only to come back unwillingly to it because of a winter situation (a hard time), the death of his brother, who happened to be the head of the clan.
Will our protagonist rise to the occasion, reclaiming the throne of the tribe, or will he succumb to the fears and desires of a lonely, but ultimately safe life alone?
The answer lies somewhere in between, as all good movies land, because of one major factor expressed in the self revelation that clarifies the movie’s purpose for all of us.
But first, what’s the movie about? Well, it’s about this guy, Lee Chandler, who is accidentally responsible for the death of his two little daughters, after having a boys meeting in his house until late at night, fighting his then current wife Randi, and going to buy some beers after the party ends, expressing his irresponsible behavior, only to comeback and find his house on fire due to his own idea of lighting the logs because of winter. So, this accident prompts him into suicidal tendencies that are mitigated by his idea of leaving his home town, where now everyone believes he’s a douchebag, enclosing himself in a lonely and guilt driven life until receiving a call about his brother’s death.
Now, this call forces him back into the town where everyone believes he’s a piece of shit, right? the last place he wants to be in. And in this place he will have to face the fact that he really is a piece of shit, because let’s face it, he was a terrible father, an irresponsible and promiscuous person who was not ready at all to have kids. We can even argue that he didn’t want to either, because wanting to have sex all the time doesn’t mean a person wants to have children. And now, coming back into town he has to face the fact that his brother has leave him with the custody of Patrick, his nephew, who’s in fact the same as him!
So, ultimately the movie is about becoming a father figure, how an irresponsible person learns to stablish boundaries on a kid while accepting their own past mistakes, changing from a like them all type of person into a real adult, one that can actually articulate in a relax manner the things they believe in, the way things should be, and ultimately come into the realization of a hard truth, that he’s not ready to be a father, paradoxically this truth being the foundational stone of his change into being a father figure.
Should you watch Manchester by the Sea? I would say watch it if you want to learn or reflect upon reality and adulthood, about taking control and responsibility for your own life and follow through in a better way of being, a meaningful being.