The upcoming film Manchester By The Sea has been more than 10 years in the making. Originally the brainchild of Boston boys Matt Damon and John Krasinski, they brought the concept to director Kenneth Lonergan who penned the script. The project has finally come to fruition, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this past January to rave reviews. It is scheduled for public release on November 18.
Damon was originally slated to direct, while Krasinski was to take on the lead roll of troubled handyman, Lee. However, both actors became involved with other projects causing Manchester to fall by the wayside time and again. Eventually Lonergan took over as director and Matt Damon recommended his good friend Casey Affleck to step in as the leading man.
The story follows Affleck’s Lee as he returns to his hometown of Manchester, MA in the wake of his brother’s death. Some past family tragedy has caused Lee to leave Manchester behind. He is working as a janitor in Quincy when he learns that custody of his teenage nephew has been willed to him by his late brother. Michelle Williams rounds out the cast as Lee’s bitter ex-wife.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, writer/director Lonergan discussed shooting on-site with Casey Affleck. The two apparently enjoyed quite the love-hate relationship, bickering over nearly every scene. Lonergan reported that Affleck originally refused to speak in the authentic Boston accent we all came to love in Good Will Hunting and Gone, Baby Gone. But fear not, judging by the dialogue in the movie trailer, Lonergan won that battle!
Although Manchester By The Sea deals with grief and heartbreak, Lonergan says at its core it is actually a film about the enduring power of love. He told Rolling Stone’s David Fear:
“It occurred to me that it’s a lot more about love than I’d realized. I think I’m always just interested in stories about people who love each other. I find it very touching how much people care about each other, even when people don’t get along or something terrible happens between them. People don’t always care about their parents, their children, their brothers or sisters — but when they do, it’s pretty powerful. It’s almost not worth being alive if you don’t have that connection.”
Those lucky enough to view the film at Sundance have hyped it as a likely Oscar candidate with Affleck potentially getting his first nomination for Best Actor. Movie lovers will appreciate the raw, gritty, no-such-thing-as-happy-endings take on the story. New England natives will rejoice at seeing authentic shots of the North Shore including Salem, Gloucester, Beverley, and of course, Manchester.