Manchester by the Sea | Chicago Reader

Manchester by the Sea

Rated R 137 minutes 2016

The three films written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan—You Can Count on Me (2000), Margaret (2011), and his latest, Manchester by the Sea—all deal with grief, guilt, responsibility, and connection. But Manchester, which already has garnered some serious awards buzz, is the most explicit in threading these ideas together. Its protagonist, a directionless janitor named Lee (Casey Affleck), is haunted by a tragedy in his recent past when he returns to the title Massachusetts town to bury his older brother and learns that he's been named legal guardian of his 16-year-old nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Margaret may be the more lyrical film, and You Can Count on Me is more straightforward in its telling, but Manchester is the most daring of the three for the way Lonergan paints a fresh layer of grief over an existing one: the death of Lee's brother (played in flashbacks by Kyle Chandler) from congenital heart failure comes as no surprise, but it proves doubly painful for Lee, compounding the tragedy in his past. Lonergan rejects the platitudes about grief offered by more formulaic films, opting instead for messy, open-ended journeys that trade in life's mundanities and uncomfortable truths. Manchester by the Sea, like Lonergan's previous films, suggests that the only meaning to be found in tragedy is the wisdom that it's meaningless, that grief is not to be overcome, but to be borne. Continue reading >>

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Kenneth Lonergan

Producer: Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck, Kevin Walsh, Josh Godfrey, John Krasinski, Declan Baldwin and Bill Migliore

Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, C.J. Wilson, Heather Burns, Tate Donovan, Josh Hamilton, Anna Baryshnikov, Matthew Broderick and Gretchen Mol

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