Manchester by the Sea is tough to watch | Arts & Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Manchester by the Sea is tough to watch

Casey Affleck begs for an Oscar, and we beg for more Michelle Williams

Kenneth Lonergan’s previous films, You Can Count on Me and Margaret, saw Laura Linney and Anna Paquin in respectively deep, nuanced, layered parts. So it’s a shame that his otherwise very fine Manchester by the Sea strands Michelle Williams, as half of a couple torn apart by tragedy, so that Casey Affleck can mope around Mas- sachusetts. The timeline is tricky in the beginning—watch the snow; this was clearly filmed during Boston’s winter from hell in 2015—but the gist is Affleck’s Lee is awarded custody of a teen boy when his brother (Kyle Chandler) dies. But Patrick (Lucas Hedges) doesn’t want to move to Boston and Lee can’t stay in Manchester due to a tragedy, threaded into the movie, that’s turned him into a zombie. Williams manages to find some grace notes to play in her too-small, stereotypical ball-busting wife part, but like most of the movie she makes room for Affleck to beg for an Oscar. This is a tough film to watch, but elegant in its worn-in way—Lonergan is a terrific writer. Too bad he didn’t finish every character.

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