Manchester-by-the-Sea


Casey Affleck lumbers through Kenneth Lonergen's Manchester-by-the-Sea like a man with the burdens of the world draped over his shoulders, and, in a sense, they are. In a commanding, heartbreaking performance, Affleck plays Lee Chandler, an apartment handyman in Quincy, Massachusetts, when we meet him. Lee is the fellow who recedes into the background in bars and at parties until he's riled, and then he's a bruiser. Most of the time he doesn't seem to want or need anything the world offers but he's also by turns listless and combative, and it seems to have something to do with events back home in Manchester-by-the-Sea. When he receives word his older brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler), has suffered a heart attack, Lee drives the 90 minutes to see about him but is greeted with news of his death and later that he's been named guardian of his 16-year-old nephew, the randy and rambunctious Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Over the course of the film, we discover why Lee is directionless and empty, why his wife (Michelle Williams) left him and what he needs to do to best care for Patrick. Not one of the answers to these questions is expected, which is the beauty of the raw and masterful script by Lonergen.

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