Manchester by the Sea

Certificate 15

(2016) 137 mins

Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Writer: Kenneth Lonergan
Cinematography: Jody Lee Lipes
Production Design: Ruth De Jong
Music: Lesley Barber


The life of a solitary Boston janitor is transformed when he returns to his hometown to take care of his teenage nephew.  The story of the Chandlers, a working-class family living in a Massachusetts fishing village for generations, Manchester by the Sea is a deeply poignant, unexpectedly funny exploration of the power of familial love, community, sacrifice and hope.

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 adapt to a world without him.  From the official website

Manchester by the Sea won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, and for Best Screenplay. It was nominated in a further 4 categories.


Casey Affleck is on electrifying form as Lee, a surly janitor living alone in a Boston suburb. Summoned by his family after his brother suffers a heart attack, Lee returns to his seaside home town to face the secrets of his past. Admirers of Lonergan’s previous output will know what to expect (death and guilt), and the tragedy is laid on even thicker this time. Nevertheless, there’s an easy-going, low-key humour throughout – notably in scenes with Lee’s teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges) – that dispels some of the gloom and makes the inevitable showdown with Lee’s ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) all the more electric.”  Radio Times

“Lonergan doesn’t do zip and zest, though he does still appreciate the importance of humour in the direst of circumstances. Yet Manchester by the Sea offers its own particular joys, going places that few movies dare to consider these days.  The film also favours truth over trite resolutions, a courageous choice that will likely deflate its chances with the uplift-seeking Academy. No matter. It’s a triumph. And Lonergan cements his reputation as one of the most vital voices in US cinema.”  Total Film

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