Todd Gaines’s review published on Letterboxd :
We all grieve, yet we grieve in many different ways. A death can make a family stronger, or destroy it. Some people never get over a loss. Others, find a positive out of a negative, and use their experience to educate and help others. I'm envious of those who've never experienced a significant loss. That's probably why it's not the end of the world for me when a celebrity dies. It's okay if you get upset when a famous person passes. I've been upset by celeb death, but it's nothing like losing someone you love more than anything. That's why I loathe the month of March. This March, it's the 10 year anniversary and the 4 year anniversary of the two losses that forever changed me as a person. Without going into any personal details, the 1st loss numbly shook me like a rag doll, and the 2nd loss, to be completely honest with you, killed a part of me, a part I will never completely get over or get back. But, I'm still here. I'm still living. I'm a survivor. Death is the easy part. It's the ones left living, who sometimes feel more dead, than the actual people buried six feet under. My last sentence, hell this entire opening paragraph, could easily be some of the main themes explored in Manchester by the Sea.
I admire the clumsy awkwardness of Manchester by the Sea. The stretcher not going smoothly into the ambulance, the look on the faces of people who don't know exactly what to say, the forgetfulness of where you parked your car, the safety still being left on the gun when you really want to pull the trigger, your clothes not coming off easily when you're ready to slide and the uncomfortable phone calls. Like death, life ain't all pretty and perfect.
Without a doubt, the evolving relationship between Casey Affleck's Uncle Lee and Lucas Hedges' Patrick is the heart and soul of the movie. The emotional attachment you feel for the characters, makes me applaud their acting abilities. Is it strong direction and writing from director / writer, Kenneth Lonergan, or natural God given talent from the actors? It's probably a combination of both.
Lesley Barber's musical score and Jody Lee Lipes' cinematography both deserve praise as well. Ms Barber's score isn't used a lot, but it's fitting mood music. Mr Lipes' eye for the camera lens is remarkable. He captures the area around Manchester and especially the sea, like Brody captures a shark.
The use of the flashback is highly helpful to the narrative. A lot of movies get lost with flashback sequences, but the flashback scenes aren't confusing and don't hurt the flow of the film. The flashbacks are vital to understanding Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams' relationship.
Manchester by the Sea is simply a helluva film with a ton of raw emotions.