The 54th New York Film Festival played festival circuit favorite Manchester by the Sea to a captivated audience.
In the heartbreaking drama, Lee (Casey Affleck) is a man who may at first seem nothing more than a punk on the edge of self-loathing and hatred for a world that perhaps bores him and his path of laziness. But, at deeper evaluation this tragically flawed man pulls strings of sympathy at every corner.
After the sudden death of his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), the younger brother Lee is made legal guardian of his son Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Lee returns unwillingly to his hometown and has to deal with both his separated wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and the North Shore community. Going back to his roots proves to be more than just a turmoil with his new life, it is also a flashback into painful memories that cut like a knife in the heart of a very vulnerable man.
A horrible personal tragedy in the past of Lee leaves repercussions felt across the family and the town. Like the sea, it washes away some of the images in the sands of time, but it never fully takes away the full place – the full broken heart.
Direction and performances are unforgettable. Kenneth Lonergan has truly created one of the best films of the year with a stellar script full of as much humor as painful agony. Affleck himself as lead is mind-blowing. The subtle nature of speech patterns mixed with shattering tears will leave you crying and questioning why life can be so cruel to one man.
Family ties run deep, but the sea can cut them. What this particular human unit has to endure is a tale that the waves carry to hit rocks over and over again. And, still the ship continues to sail.
The film is due for greatness in the film festival and beyond.
RUNNING TIME 137 mins.
A K Period Media of a Pearl Street Films, the Media Farm, K Period Media, the A|Middleton Project, B Story production. (International sales: Sierra/Affinity, Beverly Hills.) Produced by Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck, Kevin J. Walsh. Executive producers, Josh Godfrey, John Krasinski, Declan Baldwin, Bill Migliore.
Directed, written by Kenneth Lonergan. Camera (color, Arri Alexa digital), Jody Lee Lipes; editor, Jennifer Lame; music, Lesley Barber; music supervisor, Linda Cohen; production designer, Ruth De Jong; art director, Jourdan Henderson; set decorator, Florencia Martin; costume designer, Melissa Toth; sound, Kevin Parker; supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer, Jacob Ribicoff; special effects supervisor, Michael Ricci; visual effects supervisor, Julius Horsthuis; visual effects executive producer, Marc Kubbinga; stunt coordinators, Paul Marini, Patrick M. Walsh; marine coordinator, Joe Boreland; associate producer, Katie Pastore; assistant director, Michael J. Moore; casting, Douglas Abiel.
Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, C.J. Wilson, Heather Burns, Tate Donovan, Josh Hamilton, Anna Baryshnikov, Matthew Broderick, Gretchen Mol.
PHOTO – Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival/Fox Searchlight/A24