Film: “Manchester by the Sea” (from 2016)
Life is complicated. Families are complicated. One member dies, setting off a domino effect among the other family members. Lives are upended. In the midst of all, you laugh a bit. And then life goes on.
Such is the subject of Kenneth Lonergan's magnificent, profoundly moving film, "Manchester by the Sea," in which a Boston janitor (Casey Affleck) has his entire life turned on its head when his older brother (Kyle Chandler) suddenly dies. The janitor is then left as guardian of the dead brother's son in Manchester, a small fishing village hours away from Beantown.
You won't see a finer performance this year than Affleck's; the angst this tragedy-plagued guy endures isn't conveyed so much by what he says, but by what he doesn't say. Lucas Hedges is brilliant as the mouthy, impossible teenage nephew who is freaked out by his father's death, but is determined to keep shtupping his two girlfriends, playing in a third-rate indie band, and lead a normal life.
You don't have to live in New England to appreciate the details of small-town, gritty, coastal-fisherman's life that Lonergan captures so brilliantly. With Michelle Williams, Gretchen Mol, Heather Burns, a host of great, great New York stage actors, and an hysterical Matthew Broderick as an evangelical Christian. Spectacular classical music as background. Go and prepare to cry your guts out afterwards; yours truly lost it for at least 10 minutes. (G timed it.) -Wednesday