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Manchester by the Sea: Family values conquer grief

Published 13/01/2017

Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler. Picture: PA Photo/Studio Canal
Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler. Picture: PA Photo/Studio Canal

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) works as a janitor in a small apartment building in Chicago, where his chores include shovelling snow, changing lightbulbs and unblocking toilets of emotionally needy women.

It's an unedifying existence, and Lee unfairly channels his resentment at the tenants. Out of the blue, he receives a telephone call from family friend George (CJ Wilson). His older brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler), has suffered a heart attack. By the time Lee arrives at the hospital, Joe has passed and the younger sibling must break the tragic news to his truculent 16-year-old nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges).

A meeting with family lawyer Wes (Josh Hamilton) reveals that Joe named Lee Patrick's legal guardian. However, he is reluctant to be a parent again after the breakdown of his marriage to Randi (Michelle Williams).

Lee and his teenage nephew muddle through grief and misunderstanding as they make preparations for Joe's funeral, including a chance for Patrick to say farewell to his father at the mortuary. Manchester by the Sea is anchored by Affleck's understated yet devastating portrayal, and the touching on-screen chemistry with co-star Hedges.

Four stars

Belfast Telegraph

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