As Manchester By The Sea moves cinema audiences across the UK we return to Paul Duane’s piece on a 2012 Lonergan Q&A
by Paul Duane
Kenneth Lonergan, a big, disorganised-looking, mop-haired, slightly put-upon-looking man, sits at the front of the auditorium. He’s looking at the audience, they’re looking at him, and nobody speaks. The guy who’s doing this Q&A with Lonergan, director Damien O’Donnell, is nowhere to be seen – it transpires he’s looking for a small bell that he’s brought as a prop, for some reason that never really becomes clear. There’s a long, uncomfortable pause as the audience and Kenneth Lonergan try to figure out the etiquette to deal with this mild bit of social discomfort.
It’s a very ‘Kenneth Lonergan’ type of moment, right out of Margaret, Lonergan’s second film in his two-film career as a writer/director.
Margaret’s a baggy, shapeless, engrossing story that can’t really be described except to say that you need to see it in order to talk about it. If you do see it you’ll definitely want to talk about it, the way you talk about people you know and the odd, compulsive decisions they make, and why the fuck did they do this and not that? It’s that kind of film.
Lonergan was visiting the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival to talk about screenwriting. Here’s some of the things he had to say on the subject.