Looking at unspeakable loss up close

Published Thu, Feb 16, 2017 · 09:50 PM
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WHAT becomes of someone who suffers a loss so unspeakable and is so consumed by grief that it destroys his life and tears away at his soul until all that's left is a broken physical being and an awful, numbing emptiness? Lee Chandler is just such a wretch and in Manchester by the Sea, we witness how a death in the family forces him to confront his tragic past once more.

The film, written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, is a powerful human drama about an ordinary working-class stiff, the nuances of small-town life in New England and the impact that one family's personal tragedy has on a close-knit community.

Lee (Casey Affleck, in a career-defining performance) works as a handyman in a Boston apartment complex, fixing leaks, unclogging toilets and shuffling around the premises in a permanently sullen state, as if the weight of the world is on his shoulders. Unfortunately, the truth is even worse than that. We learn just how bad via a series of flashbacks, after he gets a call informing him of his older brother's death.

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