Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Kenneth Lonergan, 54, is a NY writer-director of exceptional class. Having directed only three movies during his career, Lonergan, a graduate of NYU’s Playwriting Program, has gained wide reputation through distinguishable dramas: “You Can Count on Me” (already a classic), “Margaret”, and now his latest “Manchester by the Sea”.
This story centers in Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), an emotionally devastated man who struggles with guilt, after the death of his three children in a home fire. Lee used to hang out with friends until late night, consuming alcohol and drugs, visibly lacking responsibility regarding the household.
His wife, Randi (Michelle Williams), disapproving of his conduct, left him without hesitation after the incident.
We find Lee currently living semi-isolated in Boston, where he works as a building superintendent and occasionally picks fights when drinking at pubs.
After receiving a phone call informing that his older brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler), had a heart attack, Lee is forced to return to his little hometown of Manchester-by-the-sea.
He’ll have the chance to better know his 16-year-old nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), a smart and sensitive kid who attempts to reconnect with his long-gone former-alcoholic mother (Gretchen Mol), after his father’s death.
Lee is surprised as he learns that Joe pointed him as Patrick’s guardian in his will.
For him, this is a major decision and obstacle since he doesn’t want to return to a place that brings awful memories. Everything gets more complicated when Randi, now re-married, asks to attend Joe’s funeral.
Cleverly conceived and incredibly acted, "Manchester by the Sea" is a compelling examination of painful lives portrayed with a striking sense of truthfulness.
I experienced sympathy, hope, agitation, and then frustration.
A few humorous moments are brought by Patrick and his girlfriends, contrasting with the grievous state of his uncle and the messy life he seems unable to escape.
The overmuch melodramatic music by Lesley Barber is a minor quibble that doesn’t remove a hair of competence from a heartbreaking tale that's also one of the most inspired dramas of 2016.