Manchester by the Sea 4.0 stars

Manchester by the Sea movie poster

Some films you watch to escape from the frequently painful and/or difficult reality of life. Pacific Rim, perhaps. Some films you watch to impose a satisfactory narrative onto the seemingly random chaos of life. Casablanca, maybe. And some films you watch to enter more deeply into life — the difficulty, the chaos, all of it. Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s masterful Manchester by the Sea, which tells the story of a penitent exile who is asked to give up both his penance and his exile, falls into the third category. And it does so without a hint of bravado or flourish, except perhaps for a single devastating scene between the exile (Casey Affleck) and his ex-wife (Michelle Williams). But even there, everything is earned and nothing is wasted in service to anything beyond the characters themselves. Williams’ is only one of the outstanding performances surrounding Affleck; Lucas Hedges also merits mention for his portrayal of a teenager who remains recognizably human — and what’s more, recognizably himself — in the midst of adolescent grief. But it’s Affleck’s movie to quietly own as layer upon layer of Irish impassivity is stripped away from his visage until the unspeakable can be spoken. (It’s tempting to add, “Until the marble angel standing atop a tombstone is once more a man,” but that’s precisely the sort of high-flown hooey that Lonergan avoids.) 2016.

Matthew Lickona

Showtimes

AMC Mission Valley

1640 Camino del Rio North, San Diego, 888-262-4386 | Directions

Friday, February 24

3:25pm, 7:00pm

Saturday, February 25

10:45am, 3:30pm, 7:00pm

Sunday, February 26

3:30pm, 7:00pm

Monday, February 27

3:30pm, 7:00pm

Tuesday, February 28

2:45pm

Wednesday, March 1

3:30pm, 7:00pm

Angelika Film Center

11620 Carmel Mountain Road, San Diego, 858-674-6164 | Directions

Friday, February 24

4:00pm

Saturday, February 25

4:00pm

Sunday, February 26

4:00pm

Monday, February 27

4:00pm

Tuesday, February 28

4:00pm

Wednesday, March 1

4:00pm

Thursday, March 2

4:00pm

Paloma

471 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, 760-436-7469 | Directions

Friday, February 24

5:40pm

Saturday, February 25

5:40pm

Sunday, February 26

5:10pm

Monday, February 27

5:40pm

Tuesday, February 28

5:40pm

Reading Town Square

4665 Clairemont Drive, San Diego, 800-326-3264 | Directions

Friday, February 24

7:00pm

Saturday, February 25

1:30pm, 7:00pm

Sunday, February 26

1:30pm, 7:00pm

Monday, February 27

1:30pm, 7:00pm

Tuesday, February 28

1:30pm, 7:00pm

Wednesday, March 1

1:30pm, 7:00pm

Thursday, March 2

1:30pm

Regal Carlsbad 12

2501 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, 844-462-7342 | Directions

Friday, February 24

10:00pm

Saturday, February 25

7:00pm

Regal Oceanside

401 Mission Avenue, Oceanside, 760-439-1327 | Directions

Friday, February 24

3:40pm, 6:40pm, 9:50pm

Saturday, February 25

1:05pm, 3:40pm, 6:40pm, 9:50pm

Sunday, February 26

1:05pm, 3:40pm, 6:40pm, 9:50pm

Monday, February 27

1:05pm, 3:40pm, 6:40pm, 9:50pm

Tuesday, February 28

1:05pm, 3:40pm, 6:40pm, 9:50pm

Wednesday, March 1

1:05pm, 3:40pm, 6:40pm, 9:50pm

Thursday, March 2

1:05pm, 3:40pm

Regal San Marcos

1180 W. San Marcos Boulevard, San Marcos, 760-471-3734 | Directions

Friday, February 24

10:00pm

Saturday, February 25

7:00pm

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