Though he’s been intermittently busy with plays and the like (a revival of “This Is Our Youth” starring Michael Cera and Tavi Gevinson is just opening on Broadway), writer and filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan has made only two films in fourteen years. The first, “You Can Count On Me,” was widely and correctly acclaimed, winning Laura Linney an Oscar nomination, and launching the career of Mark Ruffalo. His followup, “Margaret,” was something different: shot back in 2005, the film spent years in the editing room and was subject to legal difficulties, before eventually being quietly released in 2011, to an initially muted reaction. Critics eventually picked up its cause, some calling it the best film of the year.
Many worried that Lonergan would struggle to get another movie financed after the controversies over the film, but news has emerged that he’s heading back on set for the first time in nearly a decade, and is bringing an A-list star with him. The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that Lonergan will go into production this fall on “Manchester-by-the-Sea,” in which Matt Damon (who had a small role in “Margaret” and starred in “This Is Our Youth” in London over a decade ago) will play the lead.
OddLot Entertainment are financing the project, which will see Damon play a plumber who returns to his hometown after his brother passes away in order to look after his 16-year-old nephew, only for a secret from his past to emerge. The actor is squeezing the project in before he stars in “The Martian” for Ridley Scott, which gets rolling in November.
If Lonergan ever made a comeback, it was always going to be in this manner, with a modest project (one that certainly seems to echo his debut) with A-list talent attached. But given that Damon is one of the best, most curiously underrated actors working, and given our love for Lonergan’s previous work, we’re delighted. Short of a “Margaret”-style post-production disaster, we could see this as early as next year’s festival circuit.