Katie Boozer’s review published on Letterboxd :
Continuing my streak of personal essays, I have found another film that so deeply affects and touches me that I can't not talk about it. I left the theater in my mother's arms, barely able to walk and not finding the strength to say what was wrong. I wasn't even sure what was wrong. But Manchester by the Sea is a beautiful film about grief and something that deeply resonated with me and my story of loss.
As said in my Speed Racer review, I lost my brother to a car accident in 2011. My dad was drinking and driving, causing the accident to occur. I was in the hospital for 2 weeks. I broke 7 bones, became cross-eyed, and couldn't walk for another month after I left the hospital. These injuries were serious, but nothing compared to my brothers. He only broke one bone, but this happened to be his neck, causing him to pass instantly. I of course had no idea that his condition was so serious.
There are only two things I remember from those 2 weeks I was in the hospital. One being the one time I visited my brothers room the day before he died, and the other being my father. My father lived, but was in critical condition and in another hospital. After my brother was finally taken off the breathing machine, I was terrified of my father and what his reaction would be to Carter's death. Would I have to tell him? Would he blame me? These questions raced around in my brain for weeks. Unfortunately, I wasn't that lucky.
After the car accident, I chose not to speak to him. He scared me and I was angry. My father never tried to contact me either. Maybe out of embarrassment, maybe out of love, but he never did. I took 1 year, but I eventually forgave him and decided talking to him would be a step in the right direction for both of us. I met him at restaurant and we seemed to be back to normal again.
But something, even at my young age, bothered me. He would never speak about Carter. I would say something nostalgic and he would ignore me. I would say his name and he would change the subject. I kept trying to understand why the mentioning of his own son gave him a sense of disgust. He would bring up the past, but then pretend that Carter wasn't a part of it. This angered me beyond belief, so much that I made him go to therapy with me. He, of course, denied all of it and even walked out. I requested we do it again, he accepted, and never showed. I was furious. All I wanted from him was closure.
Grief is a difficult thing. Some people deal with grief angrily, some deal with it by talking to others, some don't talk at all. Grief is something so unique that we all will or have experienced that each and every one of us will experience differently. Lee in Manchester by the Sea is my father, in every way possible. Quiet, one noted, silently angry, and emotionless. When I was grieving, I was Randi. I wanted to talk about the loss, get over the pain, no matter how painful. But my father was Lee and left me cold, exactly the way this film did.
Maybe I should hate this film. It embodied everything I've ever experienced with the loss of my brother in 135 minutes and left me wanting to die. But it is, perfect, in every way, and I never want to watch it again. I recommend this film to anybody, because grief is something universal and couldn't have been told more beautifully.