“Hey, have you seen this movie? What did you think about THAT SCENE?!” We have all used that phrase at one point during our discussions of movies with the other person’s eyebrows raising, “Oh yea, THAT SCENE!” You go on to pick that memorable scene apart by listing what you loved or didn’t like, how it made you feel and the impression it left on you.
In this series, we will do just that. We will take a scene from a movie and discuss its impact on us. Some of these scenes may be frightening, weird, iconic, controversial, hilarious, and everything in between. Let us know your impression of the scene and the impact it left on you the first time you watched it down below in the comments. Enjoy!
*Warning: May Contain Spoilers*
Movie: Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Scene: The Conversation
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Characters: Lee (Casey Affleck), Randi (Michelle Williams), Rachel (Danae Nason) and Dillon (a baby)
Lee is a janitor who lives in a basement apartment and is told his older brother, Joe, has suffered cardiac arrest. His brother dies before Lee is able to make it to the hospital but insists on being the one to tell Joe’s teenage son Patrick the news. During a meeting with Joe’s lawyer, Lee is shocked to find out that Joe made him legal guardian over Patrick. We then see flashbacks of a traumatic night where Lee’s three children died in a fire due to his drunken negligence.
Lee is not charged but while at the police station he is able to wrestle away a cops gun and attempts to kill himself but is unable too as officers contain him. He and his wife, Randi, divorce as Lee leaves town. All this adds to Lee’s reluctance to be guardian over Patrick. As Lee moves back temporarily to his hometown, he tries to figure out what is best for Patrick while he is treated as an outcast because of his role in his kid’s death. Back in the present, Lee finally runs into the past he’d been trying to escape. He turns a corner and walks into Randi, newly married with a baby in tow. This brings us to our scene.
This interaction breaks my heart and is pitch-perfect from its acting to the dialogue. Knowing what we know, we see how deep the wounds of the past go. Randi is no longer this lovable hardass but is more timid and afraid of shattering Lee even more than he already is if she speaks too loud to him. She wants to make amends for some awful things she said after the incident and he can’t bring himself accept any forgiveness from her. It is a heartbreaking encounter but what impresses me the most with not only this scene but the whole movie is how little is said and how much is conveyed.
Randi says that “I should fucking burn in hell for what I said”; Lee’s unspoken reply is that he should burn in hell for what he did. We never hear what she said and Lee never says what he feels but it is painted all over the screen by these two with director Lonergan allowing us to fill in the gaps. When they do speak, it is broken. It’s as if they are interrupted by their guilt and shame, that it won’t let them get the words out. Both are extremely vulnerable here and both actors convey it in terrific fashion. We see that Randi has so much to say and that Lee simply can not stomach hearing any of it.
There is so much context here that it is difficult to isolate this scene by itself without it losing a little something to it. If you have seen the movie, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, I urge you to watch it in its entirety because it is an incredible look at grief and relationships.
What do you think of this scene? Did it have any impact on you while watching it? What did you think of the acting and dialogue?