Screenplay Genre: Drama
Written by: Kenneth Lonergan
Movie Time: 138 minutes – 2:10
1. Inciting Incident
The first fourteen minutes establishes an overall understanding of who Lee is: uncle, brother, fishes, kind, has a healthy happy bond with family, but now depressed, alone and self-destructive – picking fights in bars makes the audience curious why has this guy gone from family member to lonely drunk.
Fourteen minutes in: Lee Chandler gets a call to return to Manchester. He arrives and brother is gone by sixteen minutes. There are many flashbacks throughout the film.
2. End of Act I (Locked-In)
The second main story turn would be the flashback that shows an extreme contrast in the life he led in Manchester with the life he lives in the present that was established in the beginning living in Boston as a janitor. We as the audience begin to see he hold an extreme amount of guilt especially when he tells his children if they were not there he could watch the game in peace, but it has already been established that is not the case. He also mentions how at the playground he found himself “in pure happiness” which only stings the hear strings a little more as much as draws us in to understand and wonder, SO WHY THE DRAMATIC CHANGE, WHERE IS THIS HAPPY LIFE? WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS FAMILY?
3. Midpoint starts at forty-eight minutes and ending at sixty-five Minutes – Midpoint Ending ACT II
The third turn would be Lee going to pick up Patrick from school. Lee talks to the principal and they seem to know each other very well. Lee’s roots in Manchester run deep. When the principal gets off the phone he refers to a woman that it was “THE Lee Chandler.” And this is reinforced seconds later when Patrick’s teammates tell the coach what is going on and again the coach says “THE Lee Chandler.”
At 38 minutes Lee is at the school to pick up Patrick and this is the first encounter in the film we see 16 year old Patty with Lee.
Next major turn is at the lawyers. This is when the flashbacks are so intertwined with the scene in the lawyer’s office the story almost becomes linear and that really is when you feel Lee’s pain and it’s deep. The trial that he has gone through with himself is gut wrenching. Probably the worst anyone could ever fathom.
By the end of plot point B, we start into ACT III. The audience learns why he feels he has no right or is not worthy of ever being a parent is his main issue, which helps to understand why he got so upset when he gets scared when Patty tries to get out of the car to go see his dead Joe at the hospital.
CLIMAX – PLOT Point C and the Denouement Plot Point D
This is really tough on the emotions. Right when you think Lee will stay, and he seems like this will all work out. He runs into a Randi who pulls back all those emotions, which he was just coming to terms with. Then after the scene with Randi, Lee makes his decision to stay or flee when George signs the papers for Patty to become his legal guardian. Lee, literally in dialogue with Patty, tells him “I just can’t beat it.”
He thought he could, and he was. He tries to pull away from her because he knows and the audience will know will cause him to regress. The scene continues with Randi crying and saying she loved him was just enough for him to realize he can’t overcome the loss of his children in Manchester with her.
He learns for himself by the end that her moving on was to have a new husband and baby, and it wasn’t working for her. For Lee, his moving on was not about leaving Patty, but leaving Manchester and by the last scene the audience realizes he has come to terms with that.
He learns for himself, his moving on, was acceptance of the situation for himself. He learned that Manchester and Randi was the problem for him. He sees that in Randi because stayed in Manchester and simply replaced her past with a new one as well as Patty’s mom attempt to change her past. Regardless of how perfect or easy the women made their new lives appear, they were still not healed or changed. Lee realizes staying in Manchester was not the answer to acceptance and healing and changing for the better. He sees that it didn’t work for them, so why would it for him. He knew he made the right decision and they were wrong. If he would have stayed, he’d be reliving the past no matter either way. All he would be doing, is becoming Joe’s replacement as a father and Patty as his son. Instead, he changes that by returning to the new life he created in Boston and keeps Patty as a nephew.
For him, he had to leave it all, but Patty would still always remain his family, his nephew, because that is where their relationship started and that is where it must end. The audience can see this in the funeral scene and to the end, especially when they discuss college and the spare room Lee plans to have for Patty when he talks about him coming to Boston one day to go to college.
If there was a sequel, which there is no reason to, we would, I think see a happy but alone, maybe a girlfriend with Lee, but his life would be staying an uncle NOT a parent to Patty.
This movie analysis could go on and on with deeper dives into scenes, dialogue and characterization. However, that would be a film’s literary analysis and not a plot point breakdown.