Unlike the tortured Connor from A Monster Calls, Patrick is a callow high-school student who is both popular and a two-timing ladies’ man. Given the horrible history with his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams), Lee does not have the emotional strength to mentor his nephew.
Minus monsters and special effects, Manchester by the Sea is pure and painful realism, with moments of humor and beautiful New England cinematography. This film is a roller coaster ride. A funny scene involving slapstick and a refrigerator freezer becomes an emotional breakdown for one of the characters that is painful to watch. However, this scene provides much character revelation and alters the family dynamic for the rest of the film.
While both films deal with subjects that we would like to avoid, both Manchester by the Sea and A Monster Calls are fine dramas for a matinee afternoon price.