Kenneth Lonergan is perhaps one of the most highly respected writer-directors working today – and yet his cinematic output is less than prolific. While he has penned a number of screenplays, the upcoming Manchester By The Sea is only his third time at the helm, after 2000’s You Can Count On Me and 2011’s Margaret. Arguably, a lot of that will be connected to the protracted legal battles that surrounded the edit and release of his second film – originally scheduled for release in 2007 – but thankfully, no such drama engulfed Manchester By The Sea.
The premise is simple – a man is faced with the task of caring for his teenage nephew after the death of his older brother – but being a Kenneth Lonergan film, we get much more than that. Using this sparse thread, the filmmaker weaves a rich tale that contemplates life, death, and everything in between, in a movie that took this year’s Sundance Film Festival by storm.
“After the sudden death of Joe Chandler (Kyle Chandler), his younger brother Lee (Casey Affleck) is made legal guardian of his son Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Lee returns to his hometown and has to deal with both his separated wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and the community of North Shore.”
The response, when the film debuted as part of the Park City event, was resoundingly positive – with praise heaped on each performance. Now that the first trailer has been released, we can see for ourselves that Kenneth Lonergan has once more delivered a story that reaches in and touches the soul.
It is clearly very centred on the male experience – with particular exploration of the relationships between father and son, brother and brother, uncle and nephew – but with Michelle Williams representing the female contingent, we can be assured of some balance in terms of perspective. Rounding out the cast is an impressive slate of supporting talent – including Tate Donovan, Gretchen Mol, Kara Hayward, and Erica McDermott.
Manchester By The Sea is currently due to be released on November 18.