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 La Jolla

8657 Villa La Jolla Drive, San Diego, 888-262-4386 | Directions

Thursday, January 19

1:55pm

Angelika Film Center

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

Thursday, January 19

1:05pm, 4:10pm, 7:20pm, 10:30pm

Friday, January 20

1:05pm, 4:05pm, 7:10pm, 10:05pm

Saturday, January 21

1:05pm, 4:05pm, 7:10pm, 10:05pm

Sunday, January 22

1:05pm, 4:05pm, 7:10pm, 10:05pm

Monday, January 23

1:05pm, 4:05pm, 10:05pm

Tuesday, January 24

1:05pm, 4:05pm, 7:10pm, 10:05pm

Wednesday, January 25

1:05pm, 4:05pm, 7:10pm, 10:05pm

Thursday, January 26

1:05pm, 4:05pm

Landmark Hillcrest

3965 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, 619-298-2904 | Directions

Thursday, January 19

1:45pm, 4:50pm, 8:00pm

Friday, January 20

1:45pm, 4:50pm, 8:00pm

Saturday, January 21

10:40am, 1:45pm, 4:50pm, 8:00pm

Sunday, January 22

10:40am, 1:45pm, 4:50pm, 8:00pm

Monday, January 23

1:45pm, 4:50pm, 8:00pm

Tuesday, January 24

1:45pm, 4:50pm, 8:00pm

Wednesday, January 25

1:45pm, 4:50pm, 8:00pm

Thursday, January 26

1:45pm, 4:50pm, 8:00pm

Reading Town Square

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

Thursday, January 19

1:15pm, 4:15pm

Friday, January 20

10:20am, 1:20pm, 4:30pm, 7:30pm, 10:25pm

Saturday, January 21

10:20am, 1:20pm, 4:30pm, 7:30pm, 10:25pm

Sunday, January 22

10:20am, 1:20pm, 4:30pm, 7:30pm, 10:25pm

Monday, January 23

10:20am, 1:20pm, 4:30pm, 7:30pm, 10:25pm

Tuesday, January 24

10:20am, 1:20pm, 4:30pm, 7:30pm, 10:25pm

Wednesday, January 25

10:20am, 1:20pm, 4:30pm, 7:30pm, 10:25pm

Thursday, January 26

10:20am, 1:15pm, 4:15pm

Regal Parkway Plaza

405 Parkway Plaza, El Cajon, 619-401-3456 | Directions

Thursday, January 19

1:45pm

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