Be prepared to get your heart ripped out by Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea, one of the more emotionally powerful movie experiences of 2016.
Affleck plays Lee, who must return to his hometown and raise his nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), after his brother (Kyle Chandler) dies. Lee is a true mess, and we learn through flashbacks what got him to his messed-up state. He’s battling some major past tragedies on top of his brother’s death, and there’s no telling how things will work out for him and Patrick. The flashbacks are brutal, revealing things that go beyond terrible; it’s no wonder Lee is having coping issues. Affleck has turned in good work before, but nothing like what he does in this film. He’s incredible.
Williams turns in a blistering performance as Lee’s ex-wife, and a scene Affleck and Williams share together is guaranteed to knock you on your ass, and will probably earn them both Oscar nominations.
Hedges is mighty good as the confused teen dealing with the loss of his dad and his somewhat strange uncle. Kenneth Lonergan directs from his own screenplay; he’s put together some kind of movie miracle.
Besides being so emotionally powerful that you might dehydrate from crying, this movie also has some big laughs in it. It is an instant classic.
Manchester by the Sea is now playing at the Camelot Theatres (2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs; 760-325-6565); the Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 (72777 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage; 844-462-7342); and the Century Theatres at The River and XD (71800 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage; 760-836-1940).