Manchester by the Sea: Best Ever Boston Baked Beans Recipe

Year Released: 2016
Directedy by: Kenneth Lonergan 
Starring: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams
(R, 135 mn.)

“Is that all there is?”  Patty Page

If you feel you have to see Oscar touted films to add a notch to your belt, make sure to watch this film favored in the Best Picture as well as the Best Actor category.  Otherwise, wait for the DVD.

Different Drummer is starting to think the current cadre of film critics are truly miserable people who are momentarily eased out of depression by watching other miserable creatures on the screen.  That must account for their latest frenzy of delight at this nihilistic drama:

Unforced acting couples with a nuanced, insightful script to tell a story that, although seemingly simple, is achingly complex.  –James Berardinelli

The sadness of Manchester by the Sea is the kind of sadness that makes you feel more alive, rather than less, to the preciousness of things.  –Ty Burr

It's less a movie of aesthetics than of synesthesia, transmitting an unbearable burden of inner coldness and emptiness by means of warmhearted wonder.  –Richard Brody

Here is what the film is about:

After the death of his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is shocked to learn that Joe has made him sole guardian of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Taking leave of his job, Lee reluctantly returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea to care for Patrick, a spirited 16-year-old, and is forced to deal with a past that separated him from his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and the community where he was born and raised. Bonded by the man who held their family together, Lee and Patrick struggle to adjust to a world without him.

I guess there is that darn optimist quality in me that likes to see my protagonist’s struggle yield a more fortunate result, or at least see more tangible struggling.  Affleck’s Lee Chandler succumbs to his struggle without much protest.  A man drowning in remorse and rage who barely manages to flail his arms before going under.  I vaguely recall that I used to favor these bleak narratives in my youth, but perhaps the real world is a bit too bleak and the older me favors a brighter interlude.  More It’s a Wonderful Life than say, No Country for Old Men. Maybe that’s why this independent reviewer doesn’t get a seat at the Rotten Tomatoes roundtable.

Yes, Casey Affleck does an excellent job here as a man who has submerged his rage and guilt to an almost uninterrupted numbness.  I prefer his performance in The Finest Hours, where he also plays a quiet loner, stoic to a fault.  There, however, he rages to cling onto life rather than sleepwalking though a hollowed out imitation of it, as he does in Manchester by the Sea.

And while several critics laud the performance of Lucas Hedges, who plays Chandler’s nephew, Patrick, and his infusion of some much needed comic relief,  this critic was not amused.  Perhaps it is the testosterone-fueled manipulations of his uncle, as well as the two rather passive girls Patrick two times that leave me cold. 

With a few exceptions, this year’s Oscar contenders fail to impress.

Perhaps the late Patty Page said it best in song:  Is That all There Is?

–Kathy Borich



Film-Loving Foodie

The setting of Manchester by the Sea is less than an hour away from Boston, and where Lee Chandler works as a janitor.  This recipe is named for that city and it’s the kind of simple, inexpensive meal Lee would favor. 

Our recipe features three kinds of beans with a sweet, thick sauce and plenty of delicious bacon.  It might even bring the hint of a smile to Lee’s sullen face on a cold Boston night.  Or maybe not. 

Here are a few more Boston recipes for you to enjoy:

Boston Cream Pie 

Boston Polish Potato Pancakes

Best Ever Poston Baked Beans

SERVES 18-24  |  ACTIVE TIME 10 Min  |  TOTAL TIME 1 Hour 10 Minutes


2 (16 ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed

2 (16 ounce) cans Cantellini beans (or Northern), drained and rinsed

1 (16 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 pound thick cut bacon, uncooked (divided)

½ medium onion, diced

¾ cup ketchup

¼ cup molasses

½ cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon black pepper


 Preheat oven to 350°F.

Pour rinsed and drained beans into a 9x13 baking dish.  Set aside.

Reserve enough bacon to cover the top of your baking dish (I used 5 slices).  Using kitchen shears, cut the remaining bacon into bite size pieces and place into casserole dish.  Dice onion and add to casserole dish.  Set aside.

In a 4 cup bowl; combine ketchup, molasses, maple syrup, mustard and pepper.  Whisk to combine.  Pour sauce over bean mixture and gently stir to combine.  Cut reserved bacon into bite sized pieces and place on top of bean mixture. 

Bake beans in a preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until sauce is thickened and bacon is cooked through.

Serve and enjoy!

COOK'S NOTE:  You may precook your own dried beans and substitute each can with 1 1/2 cups precooked beans. 

The Slow Roasted