Manchester By The Sea

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This is not a happy film by any stretch of the imagination although there are some funny moments. Most of the fun comes from how quiet the main character is, Lee Chandle played by Casey Affleck. You can see from the start that he is a very damaged man and a very angry man. He once lived in Manchester by the sea, but is now a janitor in Boston. There are frequent flashbacks to happy times back home, building up to why Lee is now a shell of a man.Then his brother dies and he has been left as trustee to his brothers estate and guardian of his teenage nephew.

He doesn’t cope very well with looking after the young lad and tries to palm him off on whoever he can. The problem is not the boy, but the place in the title, a place that brings back terrible memories for Lee. Slowly as he deals with his brothers death and his new role as guardian we see the past involving his wife and children who are no longer part of his life. 

We see the young lad coping with his fathers death even though it was inevitable, it is of course hard. We see how he has grown up and how he has become a sportsman, ladies man, belongs to a band and enjoys being out on the sea. We see him put on a brave face and see him crack up. It is hard to talk it through as his uncle is completely numb to life. 

There are some laugh out loud lines to the film surprisingly. This is mainly between Lee and his nephew Pat. The light hearted relief is definitely needed due to the rather depressing subject.

Casey Affleck is perfect as Lee. It is not an easy part to play, a part where sometimes just a movement of the eyes is needed. I liked the way that everything continued on as normal to a degree after Joe’s passing. Life does carry on after death and people carry on their every day lives. There isn’t always a  constant explosion of emotion after death. Lucas Hedgrs plays patrick very well and you see how he struggles with not belonging, seeing his dead father and waiting for his burial. I hope he can continue in his career in this positive note and pick up great roles.

This is a great film which speeds past despite how long it is. The performances from the main cast are brilliant having to tackle difficult subjects.

9/10

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Six Feet Under

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My wife had been on at me for years to watch this series with her and I tended to respond in quite an unenthusiastic fashion. I thought it would be just a little bit too weird and melancholy. It came out when I was 17 and I saw glimpses of the series and I don’t think I was quite ready for it.

We had come to the end of Game of Thrones and we were lacking shows to watch. I suggested Six Feet Under much to Amy’s surprise. I have now watched every episode and my opinion is that this is one of the best shows I have ever seen. I warn you that it is not for the faint hearted and it tackles some tough and taboo subjects.

The show follows the Fisher family after the death of the father Nathaniel. He was head of the house in quite an old fashioned traditional sense. He ran the family funeral parlour from their large house, which was now left to his sons David and Nethaniel Jr. David had always been involved in the business working with his Dad. Nathaniel Jr ran away from the responsibility at home and never wanted to return. The death of his father left him little choice but to return although this was always a struggle.

As you can imagine, death holds a prominent part of the series. It covers grief, pain, anger, tradition and religion. Some deaths are gruesome where as others are peaceful. Their father is a constant presence in their life and a source of guidance. His death brings up many questions about him. How well did they actually know him?

There are a great deal of hard topics covered in the show. From the outset we have death which is the main focus. We see characters struggle with their own and others homosexuality, we see drug use, mental illness, sex, religion, racism, violence, cultural difference, physical illness, family break ups, incest, murder…. I could go on. I have to confess that I did at times get a bit down about it all. The acting is absolutely fantastic from all those involved. Never once do you see the actor, only ever the character they are playing. You feel their emotion and go along the rollercoaster ride. They all suffer at some point in their lives and struggle, but somehow they always stay together. Beyond the chaos there is a great deal of love.

The family consists of Mother who struggles with her own mental health issues. She struggles with the fact that she married so young and started a family without really experiencing things that young people do. It is clear that her relationship with her husband was not easy or loving. She is often on the cusp of breakdown and feels confused.

The oldest son is Nethaniel who is an idealist who likes to run away from reality. He never wanted to be part of the business although his father even in death had other ideas. The business is left to him and his brother which left him obligated to run the funeral business. He often picks the most destructive relationship, but finds solace in sex and love with others. His physical health plays a major role in the show.

The middle child is David who has always been part of the business in the hope to get acknowledgement from his father. He feels that he is often taken for granted, has to take on everyone’s burdens, move the business forward and hold everything together. He has his own troubles, particularly a secret which he has kept from his family. A secret that has challenged his faith, friendships and love life. He has always felt like the odd one out.

We finally have the youngest Claire who is often self destructive. She dabbles in drugs and alcohol despite only being a teenager. She was her Dads favourite and his death has left a major void. She struggles to develop a relationship with her mother. She also struggles to find the right man who can support her and doesn’t need her support. She is an artist and enjoys experiencing many different things. She tries to live her dream although her grief often takes away her focus.

There is a really strong supporting cast who have a major role. Their lives bring up a multitude of issues and often become tangled up with the Fisher family. There are are few happy and funny moments, but generally the issues are hard hitting and dark. This is one of the best series I have seen. The acting is brilliant and worthy of many awards. It us not a show for everyone, but there will be elements that nearly everyone can relate to.

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9/10