Manchester by the Sea ★★★★★

"I can't beat it. I can't beat it. I'm sorry."

My dad's best friend, his younger brother Séan, died this past November. When the phone call came in from Meath that he had passed away just two weeks after a cancer diagnosis my dad dropped the phone to the ground. His stare was unflinching as he looked at nobody else but me, the only other person in the kitchen at the time. I witnessed my dad sink to the floor and begin to cry heavy sobbing tears. Inconsolable for not his brother, but for his only true friend in life. I watched my dad cry for the first time that day and something about it scared me. It scared me how human it made a man of his stature look. A man whom, up to then, seemed to disguise his sensitivity through this exemplary masculine demeanour. Caring and always kind to those who know him, but stern if the occasion called for it. And yet, despite losing both parents, two in-laws to whom he was very close and three sibling, all sisters, it was Séan that made my father cry. I watched the blood leave his face as his eyes grew wider and the tears seemed endless even in retrospect when I myself began to cry as well. It's only in an afterthought that I began to think, how relentless is grief? Five letters and yet humanly indefinable beyond a broad definition of symptoms. A language of sombre expression which takes death to speak a word and yet completely cryptic to people, myself included, who cannot even begin to understand the true morbidity of its origin.

It's been three months since Séan's death and I find my father is nowhere near finding some semblance of the sense he would like to make of what's happened. A five o'clock shadow, a long face and general air of silence seem to define his presence.

For people reading this, I would like to tell you that I saw nothing but my father for two hours watching Casey Affleck cope with his grief in this movie. I was torn to pieces watching a man trying to break up the fight between his impulses and his desires. I saw a man who was broken through nothing more than regret and mistake. Carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders as he tries to reason with himself. But Manchester by the Sea taught me one thing, grief is a thankless job. It doesn't matter what you do after the fact, you've got the memories and the regrets of what you already did. No flowers, no prayers are helping anyone. I grant you it's a morbid sentiment, but it's also a cathartic reminder that life is for the living. This movie broke me.

Rest in Peace Uncle Séan

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