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Manchester By The Sea

Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // February 21, 2017
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted February 21, 2017 | E-mail the Author
Manchester by the Sea Blu-ray Review

Manchester by the Sea is a drama set against the backdrop of Manchester from acclaimed writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me). The film started out as an idea pitched by producer Matt Damon and executive producer John Krasinski. The film is nominated for 6 Academy Awards (including Best Picture).

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is a handyman who works for an apartment complex where he helps with repairs and plumbing. He regularly deals with an eccentric group of characters at the apartment. His quiet life alone takes a surprising turn when his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) passes away from a terrible disease. In Joe's will, he specified he wanted Lee to look after his son Patrick (Lucas Hedges).

Lee has lived alone since he went through a divorce with his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams). Surprised by the news that Joe wanted for him to help raise his son, Lee reluctantly decides to take care of Patrick. Patrick's mother has been out of his life for several years because of her alcoholism and Lee wants to help provide a good life for his nephew.

As the story unfolds over the course of the film, the tragic history of Lee is told via flashbacks as Lee tries to care for Patrick and come to terms with his own past. As Lee gets to know Patrick better the two grow increasingly close to one another. Lee learns about his nephew's band and meets his (two?!) girlfriends (including Silvie (Kara Hayward), who is also in his band).

Manchester by the Sea is remarkable, in part, because of the incredible ensemble. Casey Affleck delivers the performance of his lifetime in a role that will help to define his entire career. His performance surprises with grace, humanity, and depth rarely seen or felt. Michelle Williams, though only in a few scenes of the film, delivers an emotional powerhouse of a performance. Williams has rarely been as stellar or as immersed as she is here. Lucas Hedges is surprisingly stellar, with a performance that feels entirely authentic. Hedges is a scene stealer with a number of great comedic moments throughout the film.  Kyle Chandler gives a great dramatic turn that helps to elevate the film with a quietly brilliant performance.

Manchester is a beautiful location which helps to compliment the stunning cinematography by Jody Lee Lipes (Martha Marcy May Marlene, Tiny Furniture). Though this film might not have the flashiest cinematography around (as some of the films nominated at the Oscars in 2017 have) it's easily one of the best shot films of the year (and was sadly overlooked by the Academy). The film looks serene, graceful, and is perfectly framed.

The original music by Lesley Barber (You Can Count on Me, Mansfield Park) is gorgeous with beautifully serene orchestrations and choral singing. Manchester by the Sea has a great original score and a wonderful selection of classical music. The music fits the style of the film perfectly.

The costumes designed by Melissa Toth (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adventureland, Win Win) are some of the best of the year. Casey Affleck's costumes help him to disappear into the role completely. Michelle Williams has some truly outstanding costumes as well.

Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me), Manchester by the Sea feels like a great American novel. (Of course, there is no novel.)  It's a great American movie with some of the best performances of the year, stunning cinematography, remarkable music, and a great original screenplay. There is not a wasted moment. Lonergan made something extraordinary which will stand the test of time.

The Blu-ray:


Manchester by the Sea arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. This is a strong presentation with a 30 mbps bit-rate encode. Manchester by the Sea has amazing visuals and crisp beautiful colors. There is some minor banding on occasion but it's a near-perfect presentation.


Presented in 24 bit 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, this is a strong lossless audio presentation. Though the audio seems quieter than normal (one may have to turn up the volume on one's receiver), Manchester by the Sea is graced with clear, crisp audio which well presents the original score. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. The sound design (though simple) perfectly fits the style of filmmaking.

Subtitles are provided in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing) and Spanish.

Please Note: This release is a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Combo Pack.


A Conversation with Writer/Director Kenneth Lonergan is an audio commentary track featuring the director and one of the producers of the film.

Emotional Lives: Making Manchester by the Sea (16 min., HD) features interviews with cast and crew, including writer/director Kenneth Lonergan, Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, and Lucas Hedges.

Deleted Scenes (6 min., HD) features three scenes cut from the final film: Elise Calls, Children's Funeral, and Chandler Charters.

Final Thoughts:                                                  

Manchester by the Sea is a masterpiece. There is no other word. It is one of the best films of the year. A hauntingly beautiful rumination on love, loss, and grief. Casey Affleck gives a brilliant, career-defining performance. Michelle Williams delivers one of the best performances of her career.

Brilliantly written and directed, Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea is a film of quiet grace and power which will be remembered for decades to come.

DVD Talk Collector Series.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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