Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges, Gretchen Mol, C.J. Wilson, Tate Donovan, Kara Hayward Anna Baryshnikov, Heather Burns, Erica McDermott, Matthew Broderick, Kyle Chandler
When his brother passes away (Kyle Chandler), Lee (Casey Affleck) is obliged to return home to take care of his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges) and this return to the past reopens an unspeakable tragedy.
I haven't seen any of Kenneth Lonergan's films but my gut told me "Manchester by the Sea" was going to be a great film. Maybe it's because of Michelle Williams - the lady sure knows how to pick her films - or the depressing nature of it - yes, I'm attracted to depressing things. However it is, I trusted my gut, like Olivia Pope would do, and I kneel before Lonergan because this film truly is one of the best films of the year.
This film doesn't have much of a plot, but that's what I enjoyed the most about it. It is one of those films where not much happens, that are slow paced but in spite of that, it still manages to engage you and keep you interested. I'd say that's mainly because of the non-linear storytelling.
Anyway, the most surprising aspect of this film is that while handling very depressing and tough themes such as redemption and guilt, Kenneth Lonergan still manages to deliver some humour. And it isn't at random, it is indeed well balanced with the drama and the director makes use of it just at the right moment.
In addition to being filled with sharp and smart dialogue, the screenplay also features great characters starting from Lee, the main character. At first, we see a drunk who is rude with everyone around him. The kind of guy you can't understand and won't ever like. As the story unfolds, though, and his past emerges we come to know a broken man worn out by guilt and that guy is spectacularly portrayed by Casey Affleck. Without being melodramatic or overacting, he delivers the anger, the sadness and the depression of Lee beautifully and arguably gives the performance of a lifetime.
The supporting characters are also quite well written, developed and well acted, especially by Michelle Williams who manages to give an emotional performance filled with the pain of the character despite having a small amount of screen time. The same can be said of Lucas Hedges playing Lee's nephew. The young actor has a bright future ahead.