MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

★★★★★

Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan has crafted a deeply authentic film that is as absorbing as the best novels. Casey Affleck plays Lee, a building superintendent living outside Boston who is drawn back to his old town of Manchester, MA by the sudden death of his older brother. He is shocked to discover he has been named guardian of his 16 year old nephew. In a series of flashbacks, we see Lee’s story unfold and understand more of his fear of taking on this role and the source of the weary pain that infuses his being.

I cannot say enough about how well-crafted this film is; from the script to the direction to the wonderful cinematography of wintery New England, there is not a step out of place. I’ve not seen Casey Affleck in many films before, but he establishes himself here as a talent to be reckoned with, with few words but much slow-burning intensity. Also excellent are Michelle Williams as his ex-wife in the few scenes she has and the wonderful young actor Lucas Hedges as Lee’s nephew Patrick. Do not miss this film if you are a fan of finely shaped dramas.

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