This film received rave reviews everywhere. It has a 97% critics and user rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has won Best Picture honors at some film festivals. I liked it and it’s worth seeing on the BS, but I DON’T think it’s a top 20 film or a MUST SEE! It was too long and slow in spots, although the best 30 minutes are first-rate. It is written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan (“You Can Count On Me” – 2000), who gets an Oscar-worthy performance from Casey Affleck (playing ‘Lee Chandler’) and good ones from Michelle Williams (as Randi) and the rest of the cast. The screenplay is ambitious, well-written, and very funny at times, especially since it’s primarily about grief, guilt, and forgiveness.
Lee Chandler’s life is a mess. He’s a walled-off, self-sabotaging, isolated man who lives in a one-room basement apartment in Quincy (a Boston suburb) and works as a janitor. He also has anger management and alcohol problems. Lee’s main emotional connection is to his older brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler), and his nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), who live in a fishing community about 90 minutes away – Manchester by the Sea. Joe dies, and, in his will, requests that Lee become Patrick’s guardian. (Joe had sole custody of Patrick.)
Via flashbacks, we learn what happened that made Lee the way he is now, some of which involves Randi. Most of the film is about Lee and Patrick spending time together, with Lee trying to wrap his head around becoming Patrick’s guardian. It’s Affleck’s movie, especially since Williams’ part is quite small.
The film didn’t quite “hook” me, but if you’re “fishing” for a drama to see, this is a pretty good one.