Where is Manchester by the Sea?

It's the setting for an acclaimed new film starring Casey Affleck and it's nowhere near England. Well, not old England...

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Today Manchester by the Sea opens in UK cinemas.

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No, us neither, but it turns out Manchester-by-the-Sea is a small fishing community in the county of Essex in the state of Massachusetts on the northeast coast of the USA.

It also turns out there’s a reason that bit of America is known as New England. Incidentally, Manchester-by-the-Sea is just one of 33 Manchesters in the USA. There are also two in Canada and one in Jamaica, Australia, Bolivia and Suriname.

So what is Manchester by the Sea all about? (We’re now talking about the film not the place – you can tell because we’ve omitted the hyphens. Do keep up.) Well, it’s a quietly devastating movie about a Boston-based handyman played by Casey Affleck. When his brother dies, he discovers he’s the legal guardian of his teenage nephew and is forced to move back to his hometown (guess where?) and confront his unhappy past. 

Earlier this week it was nominated for the best film award at the Baftas, with Affleck in the running for the leading man gong, and it’s also a favourite for the Oscars.

But back to Manchester-by-the-Sea (note the hyphens). So, apart from the name, how does it compare to the landlocked British Manchester?

Well, it’s a lot smaller. MBTS only has around 5,000 people living there whereas our one has over 100 times that amount – around 550,000. Our Manchester has also starred in some quietly devastating films, like 24 Hour Party People, Looking for Eric and the Bafta-winning Control, although it’s never actually been honoured with a title role.

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Manchester-by-the-Sea’s harbour

Manchester by the Sea’s director Kenneth Lonergan (who’s also up for a Bafta) liked being in MBTS a lot more than the handyman does, which might be why he named his film after it.

“It was very cold at first, but very beautiful,” he wrote in his director’s note. “I loved being by the ocean and inlets all the time. I loved shooting on the boat and in the marinas and dockyards and houses in Manchester, Gloucester and Beverly [nearby towns which also sound like places in Old England]. I loved that part even when we were in triple overtime and I wanted to go to bed and never get up again.”

“Plus, the food was great. My favourite restaurant was the Clam Box in Ipswich [yes, Ipswich], which has the best lobster rolls I’ve ever had – literally twice as good as the next best lobster rolls I’ve ever had, and I have had a lot of first-rate lobster rolls. I have no idea how this can be true, but it is.”

So there you go: lobster rolls, lots of water, but no curry mile.

Manchester-by-the-Sea is in cinemas on Friday 13 January


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