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Kenneth Lonergan
Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol, Lucas Hedges
Writing Credits:
Kenneth Lonergan

An uncle is asked to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy's father dies.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 137 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 2/21/2017

• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Kenneth Lonergan
• “Emotional Lives” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Previews
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Manchester By the Sea [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 8, 2017)

One of 2016’s most acclaimed films, Manchester By the Sea introduces us to Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a custodian at a Boston area apartment complex. Though good at his job, he runs into problems due to anger issues, and those lead to fights outside of work as well.

Lee’s life takes a change when his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies from a heart condition. The will names Lee as the guardian for Joe’s teenage son Patrick (Lucas Hedges) – much to Lee’s surprise.

Lee resists this position of responsibility but he heads back to Manchester to deal with all the issues. Lee intends this to be a temporary move but his involvement with Patrick and concerns from his own past pull at him.

Going into Sea, I heard how depressing it was. All the reports made it sound like the kind of movie that came with nothing but dark material, so I figured it’d be morose and downbeat from start to finish.

Nope. While no one will view Sea as a peppy date movie, it doesn’t deliver the relentless mopefest that I anticipated.

Indeed, Sea comes with a reasonable amount of levity given the nature of the circumstances. This never becomes a movie that wallows in its misery – it paints the characters and circumstances in a believable light as they work through various serious issues.

The occasional stabs at comedy veer toward the “hard-edged New Englander” feel, which seems pretty logical given the movie’s setting. The movie’s humorous moments offer gentle respites from the drama and they integrate well, so they don’t feel self-conscious or out of place.

And Sea does need them, as the movie’s dramatic nature would become more difficult to take without the lighter flourishes. In terms of tone, Sea remains me of 2004’s Sideways, another character piece that could easily devolve into nothing more than self-pity but instead boasts honesty and realism.

Those elements come to the fore in the understated Sea. I like that the movie spells out its backstory gradually, so it doesn’t force character themes down our throats.

Indeed, Sea allows audiences to come to their own conclusions about the roles – especially Lee, whose anger issues take a while to become clear. The movie develops him in a slow, natural manner that works well for the narrative.

Sea does provide one major scene that tells the audience the heart of his anger. This sequence reveals a tragedy and does so in soul-crushing manner.

We get this information about 40 percent of the way into the movie, which becomes a daring move. Normally a scene such as this would arrive late to become a climax, whereas Sea presents it in a more casual manner. While the film makes sure the sequence delivers the expected drama and heartache, the story doesn’t grind to a halt – or give Lee excuses.

Instead, the scene allows us to understand him better without simplistic analysis. We still might not agree with Lee and we might get frustrated with his actions, but at least we see what influenced his path.

Sea treats most of this material in a fairly matter of fact manner that benefits it. Sequences that could easily become overwrought and melodramatic remain understated, a choice that gives them better impact. We don’t feel the movie beats us over the head with its emotions and themes, and the boosts the end product.

An excellent cast helps, especially via Affleck’s dazzling lead performance. He invests Lee with all the necessary anger and self-loathing but he avoids excessive emotion and melodrama. Affleck makes Lee a three-dimensional, compelling character who seems utterly believable.

Sea brings us a human tale that benefits from a consistently understated tone. It offers a low-key story of growth and redemption that hits home.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Manchester By the Sea appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a positive presentation.

Sharpness largely worked well. A couple of interiors demonstrated a smidgen of softness, but the majority of the flick displayed nice delineation and accuracy. I noticed no issues with shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes failed to appear. Print flaws also failed to mar the presentation.

Sea went with palette that favored a chilly form of teal, with some orange tones tossed in at times. Within the movie’s color design, the hues seemed solid. Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows demonstrated nice smoothness. This was a consistently satisfying image.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix of Sea, it showed scope typical of its dramatic context. This meant a limited soundscape without much to make it stand out from the crowd.

Shots on a boat added a bit of immersiveness, as did a few other elements like parties or hockey games, but those didn’t dominate. A chatty film, much of the soundfield remained limited.

Audio quality seemed good. Speech was distinctive and natural, without edginess or other issues. Music seemed warm and lush, while effects showed nice clarity and accuracy. Again, nothing about the mix impressed, but it suited the story.

Only a handful of extras show up here, and we start with an audio commentary from director/writer Kenneth Lonergan. Along with content producer Peter Ventrella, Lonergan gives us a running, screen-specific look at the project's origins and development, story/characters, sets and locations, music, cast and performances, and editing and film structure.

Overall, this becomes a good chat. A few lulls occur, but those never last long. The majority of the track provides useful info that helps give us solid background for the film.

Emotional Lives runs 16 minutes and includes notes from Lonergan, producers Matt Damon, Kevin J. Walsh, Chris Moore and Kimberly Steward, and actors Michelle Williams, Casey Affleck, Gretchen Mol, and Lucas Hedges. “Lives” looks at story and characters, cast and performances, and Lonergan’s impact on the production. “Lives” lacks a lot of depth, but it offers a decent overview of the production.

Three Deleted Scenes fill a total of five minutes, 50 seconds. We get “Elise Calls” (1:58), “Children’s Funeral” (1:50) and “Chandler Charters” (2:02). All offer interesting character information – especially “Calls” – but none of them seem crucial, so the movie works fine without them.

The disc opens with ads for Southside With Me, Patriots Day, Indignation, Café Society and La La Land. No trailer for Sea shows up here.

A second disc presents a DVD copy of Sea. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

A rich, powerful character drama, Manchester By the Sea fires on all cylinders. It embraces its narrative in a gradual, natural manner that allows it to become a vivid depiction of life and loss. The Blu-ray presents solid picture and audio as well as some interesting supplements. Sea becomes one of 2016’s better films.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 14
5 3:
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