Kenneth Lonergan is perhaps an undiscovered Hollywood heavyweight.
After a series of trials and tribulations with the film industry, including great success but also difficulties, his recent cinematic effort in Manchester By The Sea has people talking, positively, once again; gaining major traction in the run-up to the Oscars.
Lornegan is known in the industry as an 'actor's director', due to his exceptional ability to give great insight into his characters' psyche and due to this fact, this is not the first time awards and accolades come knocking on his door. To commemorate Lonergan's recent hit we present you with highlights from his impressive CV, which speaks volume to his talent as a writer and director.
Lonergan confessed that he still refuses to see this film, his first one in fact, as the whole process left him feeling lacklustre due to him having to relinquish creative control over the script when it was sold in 1991. The film had undergone a series of edits before it saw its release in 1999, which was far from what Lonergan had originally envisioned. The film stars Billy Crystal's Ben Sobel as a psychiatrist to Robert De Niro's mob boss Paul Vitti. In the scene above, we see Vitti accustomed to having his way, gate crashing Ben's wedding to Lisa Kudrow's Laura, desperately needing to talk to him about his recent bouts of panic attacks.
You can Count On Me￼
This exceptional indie masterpiece is where we first saw Lonergan truly shine as writer and director; unsurprisingly he had complete creative control, and this resulted in many honours including two Oscar nominations, one for Laura Linney (Sammy) and one for Lonergan for the screenplay. The film also features performances by Mark Ruffalo, Rory Culkin and Mathew Broderick (Brian). Above we see feelings of guilt emerge in a post-coital scene between Sammy and her married bank manager boss Brian. Broderick and Lonergan are actually old friends, having met as teenagers during many castings on Broadway; and their actor/ director chemistry is palpable.
Gangs of New York
Lonergan was brought in for scriptwriting duties for Scorsese's 2002 Gangs Of New York, which featured a heavyweight cast of Leonardo DiCaprio (Amsterdam Vallon), Daniel Day-Lewis (Bill Cutting), Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent, John C.Reily and Liam Neeson. By now, Lonergan had without a doubt made a mark on the Hollywood map for his insight into complex human drama. This screenshot finds Amsterdam and Bill enjoying the delights of a brothel, retiring there after a shocking assassination attempt on Bill. The film received mostly positive praise, furthermore garnering numerous Oscar nominations, including best actor for Day-Lewis and once again for Lonergan's screenplay.
One would have thought that by now, after being part of several big profile cinematic projects, that Lonergan's future as writer/ director would be secure, however, Hollywood still had more trials in store for him. His next project, Margaret, directed and written by Lonergan, actually took six years to be released, due to disagreements and legal battles between Lonergan and Fox Searchlight over the film's running time. Despite garnering rave reviews, the film saw a very limited release. Margaret details how 17-year old Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin), becomes witness to a bus accident and is caught up in the traumatic aftermath. The above scene details a forbidden meeting in a New York café between our protagonist and her maths teacher, played by Matt Damon.
Manchester By The Sea
With a bitter after-taste remaining from Margaret, next Lonergan mainly focused on theatre productions, until his strong return in 2016 with directing and writing duties for Manchester By The Sea. The film, again written and directed by Lonergan, follows a down-and-out janitor Lee (Casey Affleck) crippled by guilt and remorse, unable to communicate due to a past tragedy; and when he has to return to Manchester after news of his brother's death, the past resurfaces. The screen shot above is perhaps the film's most heartbreaking moment, where Michelle William's character Randi, Lee's ex-wife, reaches out to Lee, to apologise for past behaviours. Lee, however, is unable to deal with any emotional situations, thus setting the tone for the film's oddly humorous but also devastating narrative.
Manchester By The Sea is set for release in the UK on the 13th of January. Read our review of it by heading here.