Casey Affleck shines in this reflection on loss and coping

After premiering at Sundance to widespread acclaim, Manchester by the Sea creates a very personal yet realistic portrait of growing up, death, and the meaning of family.

Lee Chandler, a janitor in Boston, returns to the titular hometown after his brother’s sudden death to care for his orphaned nephew. As he deals with the tragedy, as well as his family, community and estranged wife, he is beset by flashbacks and non-sequiturs, retelling his traumatic past in snippets. As his nephew comes to terms with losing his father, Chandler must either accept his role as guardian or step away.

The frozen landscape of Massachusetts’ North Shore provides an eerie calm, leaving plenty of space for Affleck’s thoughtful performance, while a classical soundtrack reinforces the metaphors without taking you too much out of the story. Lonergan’s theatrical and screenwriting background (Gangs of New York, Analyze This) shows up in his careful plot development, allowing his actors and narrative to unfold an evocative and intimate character study.

Starts Jan 19, Artis, Burg