Manchester By The Sea


“Despicable behavior should be taken into account when considering the merits of a final product; art is the creator is the art.”

Title: Manchester By The Sea (2016)
Director: Kenneth Lonergan (👨🏼🇺🇸)
Writer: Kenneth Lonergan (👨🏼🇺🇸)

Reviewed by Angie 👩🏻🇺🇸🌈

Technical: 3/5

I tried to like this movie. However, the only person I felt for was a supporting character. The movie as a whole was disjointed in both character and accent, and some actions were so out of character that I did not find it believable. East Coast accents were also here and there; sometimes a character would speak with the absent of the “r” sound and sometimes it was present. Sadly, character development was lacking. 

That being said, I kept pace with user scores on Rotten Tomatoes (4/5) so as to weed out personal bias against this film. I need to dock a point at the very least, however, for the gross business of leading actor Casey Affleck being fawned over by reviewers and winning Best Actor awards, despite settling on two sexual harassment suits in 2010. Despicable behavior should be taken into account when considering the merits of a final product; art is the creator is the art, and the two shouldn’t be mentally separated for the sake of not making waves within industry circles.

Gender: 1.5/5
Does it pass the Bechdel Test? NO Assessment: 43% of creative decision-makers were female

Not including extras, there were only four roles for women in this film. Of those four, two scenes were about men. Manchester by the Sea didn’t even pass the very low bar of the Bechdel Test. We also took under consideration the fact of Affleck’s disgusting behavior on set of I’m Still Here (2010) and docked a point for misogyny that took place in real life, not just fiction.

However, a half point is given to Michelle Williams who delivers an amazing performance in portraying such an emotional journey.

Race: 3/5 Assessment: 7% of creative decision-makers were POC

There were only two people of color who had speaking roles in the entire film. While this would normally be grounds for point subtraction, a closer look at the true demographics of Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA, reveals that in 2010, 98% of the population was white, 1% were Asian, and 1% were Multiracial. Thus per our methodology, Manchester by the Sea receives 3/5 for being contextually accurate but neither offensive nor progressive.

Mediaversity Grade: D 2.50/5

This is a story about white people with only white friends, surrounded by white neighbors. While this scenario may be accurate to the true Manchester-by-the-Sea in MA, these are still creative decisions being made here by Lonergan that exclude women and POC. While there are some good moments in the movie with small bits of humor, I found most of the scenes one-dimensional. In fact, the only scene I found memorable was watching Lee navigate the logistical blocks in burying his brother. Otherwise, this one-dimensionality and stink of Casey Affleck’s disgusting behavior in real life outweighs my ability to recommend this film.

Grade: DLi