“Manchester by the Sea” — A Film Literary Analysis through Script Structure
Created by Jessica N. Brunelle
PROJECT TITLE: Manchester By the Sea
GENRE: Drama — Rite of Massage
PREPARED BY: JESSICA NILE BRUNELLE
- WRITTEN BY: Kenneth Lonergan
- PRODUCED BY: Pearl Street Films, SABAN FILMS, Mongrel Media, and K Period Media
- Opening Image (1): Flashback — Young Patty, Joe, and Lee fishing (happy Lee) Book Ends — Similar Yet Different.
- Theme Stated (5): Lee’s Boss talks about he needs to change from being depressed, tenants complain.
- Set-up (1–10): Depressed Lee Chandler had a once happy past because of the opening image, but the audience learns that his conflict is his depressed and self-destructive behavior by his apathetic and pessimistic attitude towards people.
- Catalyst: Lee gets a call to come home to Manchester, MA.
- Debate (12–25): Lee rushes to the hospital but fights traffic and rushes to get his shifts covered and updates [boss; someone] about apartments.
- Break into Two (25): Arrives at hospital and finds out that Joe died before Lee could get there in time.
- B-Story (30): Flashbacks of Joe’s diagnosis. We learn that Lee’s dad and Joe’s wife used to be around but in the A Story they are not and Lee is the only one that can do anything. We learn about his past, but it’s vague.
- Fun and Games (30–55): Lee has to pick up Patty at school, which hints to “The Lee Chandler” twice. Funeral arrangements with Patty. Lee freaks when he almost runs over his foot, which hints “his fear of hurting someone.” Patty doesn’t like his dad being frozen until spring, which hints to
- Midpoint (55): The fire flashback to explain the events that happened to his family — the root of his struggle.
Last Sequence of the Midpoint:
Scene: Lee Chandler at the Police Station
10. Bad Guys Close In (55–75): He battles his need to do whatever is best for Patty because of Lee’s huge heart and dedication to his nephew, but Lee holds on to his past, which is filled with guilt, sadness, and his inability to forgive himself of his past.
Showing Realistic Grief — Manchester By The Sea
11. All Is Lost (75): When Patty has the panic attack over the meat because this is when Lee really starts trying to set up a life in Manchester.
12. Dark Night of the Soul (75–85): Lee struggles to overcome or “beat” his dark past in Manchester in order to get a second chance of being a great and self-sacrificing parent to Patty. He tries everything possible and ideas to find a way for him to stay or but the struggle to stay lingers.
13. Break into Three (85): Randi pulls him back into the darkness of his past. Almost starting another fire, dreams of his girls burning. He tells Patty, “I can’t beat it. I thought I could, but I can’t.
14. Finale (85–110): Spring — Finds out a plan for him and Patty and a way for Patty to finish out his life in Manchester while Lee gets set-up and tells Patty he plans to have a room for him when he comes up for college, he’ll have a place to stay. They go to the funeral, Lee actually sees Randi’s new baby and husband. We also see a gravestone with all his family members deceased except for him and Patty. [subtext shows why Lee can’t stay in Manchester, too much death and his huge heart holds too much sadness for him. Lee slays the dragon [Patty] BECAUSE Patty is upset at the set-up, but Lee and the audience know it’s only because he is an upset teen who just lost his dad and now his uncle again. But we the audience know that Lee won and in that we have faith for both of their happiness.
15. Final Image (110): Bookends to the opening image — similar yet different — Now, present day spring, Lee is understood to be content through his acceptance of the past, which allows him to forgive himself, knowing all is not lost, and he knows he will always be a part of Patty’s life as he watches Patty and his girlfriend sailing. Casey Affleck’s expression portrays Lee Chandler absorbing and enjoying the moment. When Lee FINALLY smiles, it once shows the peace he now knows he deserves and possesses.