If writer-director Kenneth Lonergan faced an uphill battle with Margaret, his second directorial effort that was hamstrung by editorial and legal issues early on in development, Manchester By the Sea heralds a welcome change in fortunes.
Buoyed by stellar reviews at TIFF and Sundance, Lonergan’s third feature film has sparked awards chatter across the board, with critics showering praise on Casey Affleck’s once-in-a-lifetime performance as Lee, a man haunted by the sudden and devastating death of his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler). Upon returning to his hometown of North Shore, a quaint place he left many moons ago, Affleck’s fragile lead encounters his distant nephew (Lucas Hedges), before reluctantly agreeing to stand as his newfound guardian.
Also starring Michelle Williams as Joe’s estranged ex-wife, Manchester By the Sea has all the makings of a powerful, moving drama about the ways in which we deal with loss. Even in the sombre trailer above, both Affleck and Hedges grit their teeth through the five stages of grief – there’s denial, anger, bargaining, depression and eventually some semblance of acceptance – and the result is a film that envelopes you in the story with relative ease. CJ Wilson, Gretchen Mol and Matthew Broderick also star.
Manchester By the Sea has been screening in US theatres from November 18, and is poised to hop across the pond in time for a UK release on January 13. Curious to know more about the creative process behind the scenes? Our interviews with Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams ought to help shed light on this year’s Oscar frontrunner.
In the acclaimed new drama from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count On Me, Margaret), Casey Affleck stars as Lee, a man whose spare existence is suddenly ruptured when the death of his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) forces him to return to the hometown he abandoned years before. Rocked by contact with his estranged ex-wife (Michelle Williams) and the revelation that Joe has made him guardian of his teenage son (Lucas Hedges), Lee is forced to face up to painful memories and new-found levels of responsibility as he reconnects with his family.