Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Critic Consensus: Manchester by the Sea delivers affecting drama populated by full-bodied characters, marking another strong step forward for writer-director Kenneth Lonergan.
Tickets & Showtimes
Manchester by the Sea Videos
Manchester by the Sea Photos
Watch it now
News & Interviews for Manchester by the Sea
Critic Reviews for Manchester by the Sea
Unforced acting couples with a nuanced, insightful script to tell a story that, although seemingly simple, is achingly complex.
The sadness of "Manchester by the Sea" is the kind of sadness that makes you feel more alive, rather than less, to the preciousness of things.
Affleck is magnificent, but the movie is something less than that, because it can't completely overcome some built-in challenges. Even so, Manchester by the Sea deserves honors for being so different, and for working on the mind in a particular way
Its initial enigma seems to need no explanation; yet, once deciphered, the film does not falter but moves only deeper into the emotional territory it charts.
It's painful and tragic, yet it's cut with elements of humor and laughter. Just like life.
Audience Reviews for Manchester by the Sea
As Oscar season arrives, you can always expect a film to appear where it wants to throw its weight around and get its hands dirty by delivering a downbeat drama where the writing is empathetic and the actors can really show off their chops. Manchester By the Sea is that sombre type of Oscar bait film but to think of it as solely that, is to miss it's true depth and beauty. Plot: Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is a Boston janitor who lives his life as a loner. One morning, he receives a phone call that his brother has died from a sudden heart attack. As a result, he returns to his hometown where he finds out that he's been trusted with the guardianship of his 16-year-old nephew. Lee rejects the responsibility while being back home begins to unearth a dark and tragic secret that caused him to leave in the first place. Kenneth Lonergan is a well respected playwright and screenwriter in the Hollywood circle but he's actually directed less than a handful of films - three to be exact. His debut You Can Count on Me in 2000 was critically acclaimed and even managed a couple of Oscar nominations - including one for Lonergan's screenplay. However, it took him years before he could get his next film completed. This film in question was the underrated and overlooked Margaret. It was finished in 2007 but didn't get a release until 2011 due to lawsuits surrounding the final cut of the film. Such nonsense could have forced Lonergan to give up entirely and that's exactly what his friend Matt Damon was thinking. As result, Damon approached him with an idea that he and John Krasinski had come up with. The result was Manchester By the Sea. Sadly, Damon had to drop the lead due to prior commitments and the part went to Casey Affleck instead. Who, in hindsight, turns out to be perfect for the role. Much of Affleck's character is shrouded in mystery and that's the driving force behind Lonergan's screenplay. It's the ambiguity and air of secrecy that holds your attention but throughout the earlier part of the film we are given snippets of information. When the revelation is actually made and it becomes clear why Lee is so reclusive and withdrawn, it's absolutely devastating and changes the narrative and motivation of his character considerably. For the most part, it's a quietly affecting drama. It doesn't play its hand too forcefully, instead relying on its moments of emotive power to develop naturally. It focuses on bringing dignity to the lives of everyday people and fully relates the heartache in looking grief and sorrow in the face and finding love and responsibility in their place. Although it's sounds depressing, Lonergan fills it with a lot of dry humour and the entire cast are excellent; Kyle Chandler only features in flashbacks but he brings a really strong paternal presence and, despite appearing high in the film credits, Michelle Williams actually features very little. Although you wouldn't think so, such is the power of her performance in a few short scenes. Ultimately, though, this is Affleck's film. I'd heard a lot of positivity surrounding his award winning work here and I have to admit that the praise is justified. The thing is, on the surface it doesn't look like he's doing very much at all but there are many subtle layers to his performance and to his understanding of this afflicted and tortured character. It's a masterclass in understatement. He allows Lee to reveal himself naturally (and quietly). Much like his performance in Jesse James, Affleck does very little yet says so much. It's hard not to see him win an Oscar for this. Manchester By the Sea is a slice of life where the characters are meticulously drawn and the small town itself plays a major role. It possesses real emotional depth and with a leisurely pace and a lengthy running time, it's a big ask from Lonergan for you to invest in these people. But if you do, you'll be paid dividends and he keeps good on that promise. Mark Walker
Oscar time for Best Actor, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Screenwriter, etc.
This is an incredibly sad tale about sad people in a sad town. It's the typical bone-dry film that critics drool over, but it just didn't leave an impression on me. Casey Affleck's performance is really great, the screenplay is occasionally funny but mostly somber, and the directing is fine. This film is an interesting character study, but one that can lull you to sleep pretty easily.
Manchester by the Sea Quotes
There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.
Discuss Manchester by the Sea on our Movie forum!