Manchester by the Sea

I finally watched the movie that Casey Affleck won an Oscar for Best Actor. It was a difficult movie to watch because it is sadder than anything else I’ve ever seen. However, Affleck truly deserved his award as I have never cried so hard or been so moved during a movie.

I don’t want to give the plot away but it touches the subject of death in a way most screen writers have not. The synopsis is Affleck’s character Lee Chandler returns home to New England after learning his brother passed away to care for his nephew. That happens pretty early on in the movie, the plot that unfolds thereafter is creatively acted and indescribably emotional.

When I was in college, I took a class titled: Death and Dying. An elective towards my Sociology degree, it covered a series of books that discussed the stages of mourning and near death awareness. The latter subject is something a dying person experiences that may be mistaken for dementia or madness from their loved ones or caretakers. It is a fact their way of communicating the end of time is near for them. It is their way of finding closure before they exit the world they knew on earth. It may not happen for everyone but for those who do experience it, it is helpful to recognize the signs of near death awareness so that you may be able to offer support your dying loved one needs.

This movie does not focus on near death awareness, rather the real side of mourning. Everyone mourns differently, some harder than others depending on the circumstances surrounding the death. Flashbacks throughout the movie eventually reveal the tragedy that drove Affleck’s character away from his hometown. When I came to the end of the movie, I couldn’t even keep my eyes on the screen because the monotone he maintained, the obvious depression that could not be lifted — made complete sense. More than I wanted to accept. It left me speechless.

Screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan, who won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, also well deserved, depicts a level of emotion that I can’t shake off. Death is real but it is the hardest emotion to tackle and he does an amazing job translating those feelings in the characters he’s created.

I recommend watching this movie because if anything, it makes you think about life and what we have to be grateful for. Quality of life is scarce these days, don’t waste it. Spend time with your loved ones and cherish every minute.

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