Manchester by the Sea

Critics Consensus

Manchester by the Sea delivers affecting drama populated by full-bodied characters, marking another strong step forward for writer-director Kenneth Lonergan.



Reviews Counted: 324

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 49,708


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.9/5

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Movie Info

After the death of his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is shocked to learn that Joe has made him sole guardian of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Taking leave of his job, Lee reluctantly returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea to care for Patrick, a spirited 16-year-old, and is forced to deal with a past that separated him from his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and the community where he was born and raised. Bonded by the man who held their family together, Lee and Patrick struggle to adjust to a world without him.

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Critic Reviews for Manchester by the Sea

All Critics (324) | Top Critics (50)

  • This is about life as it is lived in the real world, with unassuageable pain, loose ends untied, life lessons unlearned. Life with no narrative closure.

    Jan 12, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Each scene brims with self-contained humour and drama, regardless of whether it moves the story along or simply fills in background colour.

    Jan 12, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Unforced acting couples with a nuanced, insightful script to tell a story that, although seemingly simple, is achingly complex.

    Dec 8, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Dec 7, 2016 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • 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

    Dec 6, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Dec 2, 2016 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Manchester by the Sea


Really well written and outstandingly acted drama. Flashbacks unfold the full scale of the tragic events only by and by, but considering relatively little happens overall, the movie flows really well anyhow. There is a very authentic feel to it, that makes for a couple really amusing scenes amidst all the drama, too. Ultimately a very rewarding viewing experience, for which Affleck completely deserved his Oscar.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

Started off really well, but gets long and drawn out, and honestly I liked the character more when he was just a grumpy bugger before the past trauma is revealed. I watched about half (and it's over two hours long). Michelle Williams is underused. It's a well made movie, I can understand the praise, but my copy was on loan and I needed to return it, but didn't have enough interest to renew it.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer


Manchester by the Sea is a sensitive character study that feels profoundly human and finds an enviable balance between drama and humor. Full review on filmotrope. com

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Manchester by the Sea is like a mournful symphony gently guided under the masterful direction of its conductor. The adagio pace of the film unfolds as a contemplative composition. At 2 hours 17 minutes, it's leisurely pace can tax the viewer's patience, but the rewards are great. It's a work marked by the modulation of sensitivity as we witness an evolution of poignant discussions. Happy, sad, angry - our undulating emotion crescendos with a heartbreaking conversation. The account ultimately continues on to the gentle sublime cadence. This is a movie about self-discovery. As such, we learn more about our character as the chronicle develops. It's that gradual reveal of the narrative that keeps the audience captivated. Lee isn't noticeably that much different at the end than he was at the beginning. Yet our appreciation for this man has developed. It's an ending that plays out like life. This saga isn't finished but we understand so much more now than we did when we started. I was enriched by the ride.

Mark Hobin
Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

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