While being an unmistakably artistic and raw film at times, “Manchester by the Sea” might be one of the saddest films ever made with little to really show for it as an arching journey. It deserves credit for an original narrative, but whether it deserves a recommendation to people who aren’t film junkies is an entirely different question.
The performances of the lead and supporting cast are genuine and, what one must imagine, quite realistic. There are moments of true humor wrapped amongst tragedy, but ultimately they are drowned out by the very somber dredging of Lee, the main character. It tries hard to be a complete and immersing story, but sometimes borders on tedious in that search. For being such a unique piece in its own right, “Manchester by the Sea” is a good film that crosses the line of being great often with its production, music, and cast, but without ever really settling firmly on that greatness because of its story.