Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams shine in this devastating drama from Kenneth Lonergan, about a man’s painful hometown return.
Tender, brutal and utterly mesmerising, Kenneth Lonergan’s (Margaret, 2011, You Can Count on Me, 2000) third feature as director is a visually eloquent and emotionally devastating exploration of grief and redemption. Casey Affleck gives an indelible, career-defining performance as the laconic, calcified Lee, a man whose spare existence is suddenly ruptured when the death of his brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler), forces him to return to the hometown he abandoned years before. Rocked by contact with his estranged ex-wife (Michelle Williams) and the revelation that Joe has made him guardian of his teenage son (Lucas Hedges), Lee’s private torment deepens. Lonergan harnesses all the cinematic potency of the wild and durable Massachusetts locations to magnify the unfathomable inner turmoil of a man so shattered by the consequences of one single mistake that he cannot reverse his retreat from life, even when faced with the responsibility of caring for someone else. The primary tragedy is revealed through a series of flashbacks that imbue the narrative with a foreboding urgency, often triggered by an emotional response to place, spoken exchanges, or the knowing stares and whispers of the townspeople. This is exacting filmmaking, profound and overwhelming.
2016 USA
Directed by
Kenneth Lonergan
Produced by
Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck, Kevin J. Walsh
Written by
Kenneth Lonergan
Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler
Running time
137 minutes