Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions have unveiled the first trailer for writer/director Kenneth Lonergan’s (You Can Count on Me, Margaret) highly anticipated grief drama Manchester by the Sea. The film debut at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year to rave reviews (Including one by Collider’s own Adam Chitwood) and stars Casey Affleck as a solitary janitor/handyman who must return to his hometown of Manchester when he receives word that his brother (Kyle Chandler) has suddenly died. He works to put his brother’s affairs in order (including caring for his teenage son) while still reeling from his own personal trauma.
Contemplation of death and its sprawling aftermath has been at the center of Lonergan’s work in his first two films and it seems to be the focus of Lonergan’s latest as well. In this case, the death of Chandler’s character makes Affleck’s janitor consider not only his own path in life but what made him leave his hometown. One can see from the trailer that his relationship with Michelle Williams’ character clearly had something to do with his absence, but there are other elements teased throughout the trailer, including past employment and his relationship to his family.
Of course, another key part of Lonergan’s artistry is his attention to setting, the daily social rhythms of the towns and cities where his films are set. Margaret is many things, including one of the best American films of this decade, but it’s most striking as a sonnet for New York City, heavily peppered with moments that speak to the attitudes and desires that the City That Never Sleeps fosters. Manchester by the Sea looks to do something similar with the fishing town of the name and similarly looks like it will not rely solely on dramatic oomph or the atmosphere of the setting to gather its storm of emotions. It’s in the confluence of those two forces that the movie has likely garnered such a quick and dedicated following, and I frankly can’t wait to get my eyes on it.
Watch the Manchester by the Sea trailer below, and click here to read Steve’s interview with Lonergan from Sundance. The film also stars Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges, Gretchen Mol, Tate Donovan, Kara Hayward, and Erica McDermott.
Here’s the official synopsis for Manchester by the Sea:
After the sudden death of Joe Chandler (Kyle Chandler), his younger brother Lee (Casey Affleck) is made legal guardian of his son Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Lee returns to his hometown and has to deal with both his separated wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and the community of North Shore.