Synopsis: An uncle is forced to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies.
Release Date: December 2, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan is one of those guys who pops into the Hollywood circle every several years and makes a movie. Some have been good (You Can Count on Me) and some less-good (Margaret), but they always make you feel something. Get ready to feel again, because Manchester by the Sea is Lonergan’s masterpiece.
Manchester by the Sea is about a troubled young man named Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck from The Finest Hours) who is forced to take in his nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges from Moonrise Kingdom), when his brother (Kyle Chandler from “Friday Night Lights”) suddenly dies. Lee wants Patrick to move to Boston to live with him, but Patrick wants to stay in Manchester-by-the-Sea with his friends and school. Moving to Manchester isn’t an easy proposition for Lee, as the town – and his ex-wife, Randi (Michelle Williams from Take This Waltz and Certain Women) – won’t forget the ghosts from his past that he tried to escape when he ran to Boston in the first place.
The story in Manchester by the Sea could easily be dismissed as a coming of age story, both for Patrick and for Lee, but Lonergan throws just enough subtle twists and turns into the mix to make it so much more than that. Lonergan keeps the viewer guessing without ever turning things into a big charade or caricature, and the resulting film is powerful and tear-jerking. The secrets of Lee’s past unravel slowly and deliberately, and the audience’s heart breaks along with his.
Manchester by the Sea is not all sniffles and tears. There are bits of unexpected comedy thrown in, as well as moments of pure and brutal honesty. It’s not always easy to watch either, often simultaneously heart-wrenching and gut-punching. But, at its core, there’s a compelling story, and likeable-ish characters to take the audience through it. And, it’s set against the beautifully brisk backdrop of the New England coastline, making the already cold tone of the movie that much more frigid.
The end of the year is usually packed with movies like Manchester by the Sea, powerful movies that audiences and the Academy will remember a few months later; that’s why it’s called Oscar season. Manchester by the Sea is an Oscar movie, and while not all films that are given the title deserve it, this one does. It’s one of the best of the year.
There are only two words that need to be said about the acting in Manchester by the Sea: Casey Affleck. Okay, two more: Michelle Williams, but her immense talents are grossly underutilized – she’s probably onscreen for all of ten minutes out of the two-hour-plus running time, but for those ten minutes, she lights it up. Now, Casey Affleck – he carries the movie on his shoulders in just about every scene. His portrayal as the damaged, tough-guy-with-a-heart reluctant hero is absolutely awe-inspiring. And when Affleck and Williams are on screen together, there’s not a dry eye in the house. For his part, Lucas Hedges holds his own with Affleck, verbally sparring as a grieving son would with his new-found guardian, but the smartest thing Hedges does is stay out of Affleck’s way.
It’s easy to write words and stage directions to tell a story, but it’s something altogether different for a viewer to actually connect emotionally with a character. That’s what happens in Manchester by the Sea. Casey Affleck takes the entire audience on his journey, forcing it to feel the laughter and the tears along with him. On paper, Affleck would seem like an underdog to win an Oscar for his emotionally charged performance in Manchester by the Sea. After enough people see the movie, however, he’ll be a favorite.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Kenneth Lonergan
- Producer(s): Lauren BeckMatt DamonChris MooreKimberly StewardKevin J. Walsh
- Screenwriter(s): Kenneth Lonergan
- Cast: Casey Affleck (Lee Chandler)Michelle Williams (Randi Chandler)Kyle Chandler (Joe Chandler) Lucas Hedges (Patrick)Ben O’Brien (Young Patrick)Gretchen Mol (Elise)C.J. Wilson (George)Mary Mallen (Sharon)Tom Kemp (Stan Chandler)Chloe Dixon (Suzy Chandler)
- Editor(s): Jennifer Lame
- Cinematographer: Jody Lee Lipes
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Melissa Toth
- Casting Director(s): Douglas Aibel
- Music Score: Lesley Barber
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA