Manchester by the Sea

"Excellent"

Manchester by the Sea Review


This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written, directed and acted that it's impossible not to be pulled into its powerfully wrenching drama. Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (see also 2011's sleeper masterpiece Margaret) creates characters so vivid that they get deep under the skin, and he allows his actors to so fully inhabit them that they become unforgettable.

This is the story of Lee (Casey Affleck), a janitor who is hiding in Boston from his past. When his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has a heart attack, he returns to his hometown Manchester to take care of Joe's 16-year-old son Patrick (Lucas Hedges), who isn't remotely happy about this set-up. But Joe's estranged wife Elisa (Gretchen Mol) has vanished, and Lee's ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) has started a new life. So while Patrick struggles to maintain his independence, Lee tries to build some sort of relationship with him. But both are still reeling with pain over things that happened to them over the years.

Yes, the central theme here is grief, and Lonergan piles mountains of it onto these characters. As details about their back-stories are revealed, the intensity of the emotions becomes nearly unbearable, and yet neither Lonergan nor the actors ever give into sentimentality or trite sermons. This is achingly realistic, an exploration of how people survive even the worst things life can throw at them. And Affleck delivers his best performance yet in the role, a devastatingly transparent turn that holds the audience in rapt attention. Newcomer Hedges matches him beat for beat as a deeply likeable teen whose prickly reactions make him even more sympathetic. And both Williams and Mol add some blistering electricity as women struggling to reinvent themselves. In just a few scenes, Williams very nearly steals the film.

While the major plot points in this story feel somewhat overpowering, Lonergan's focus remains on the character details that draw the viewer in. We can't help but identify with everything that happens, especially since we know that the emotions we can see are only the tip of the iceberg. These are deep, complex people grappling with issues that are rarely tackled so honestly in the movies. Sometimes it feels like the screenwriter is testing these characters like God testing Job, piling on so much tragedy and harsh interaction that they should just give up. But the point is that they don't. They may be wounded and beaten down, but their spirits remain feisty. And in the end, they offer an inspiring glimmer of hope.

Watch the trailer for Manchester By The Sea:



Manchester by the Sea

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 137 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th December 2016

Box Office USA: $19.00

Distributed by: Amazon Studios

Production compaines: Big Indie Pictures, Pearl Street Films, CMP Entertainment, K Period Media, B Story, The Affleck/Middleton Project

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Fresh: 174 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 8.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: , Lauren Beck, , Kimberly Steward, Kevin J. Walsh

Starring: as Lee Chandler, as Randi Chandler, as Joe Chandler, Lucas Hedges as Patrick Chandler, as Elise Chandler, as Hockey Coach, as Silvie, Anna Baryshnikov as Sandy, as Jeffrey, as Jill, C.J. Wilson as George, as Wes, as Sue, Tom Kemp as Stan Chandler, Ben O'Brien as Young Patrick Chandler, Susan Pourfar as Nurse Irene, Robert Sella as Dr. Muller, Ruibo Qian as Dr. Bethany, Richard Donelly as Mr. Martinez, Virginia Loring Cooke as Mrs. Groom, Quincy Tyler Bernstine as Marianne, as Mrs. Olsen, as Mr. Emery, Mary Mallen as Sharon, Chloe Dixon as Suzy Chandler, Ellie Teeves as Karen Chandler, Christian J. Mallen as CJ, Oscar Wahlberg as Joel, Shawn Fitzgibbon as Tom Doherty, Jackson Damon as Otto, Jami Tennille as Janine, Liam McNeill as Josh, Allyn Burrows as Father Martin, Brian A. White as Jerry, Danae Nason as Rachel

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