Manchester By the Sea is thefirst film to lace-up for the marathon that is the Toronto International Film Festival 2016.
In this beautiful movie destined for an Oscar nod, the screenwriter/director Kenneth Lonergan did for Casey Affleck what Lonergan did for Mark Ruffalo in You Can Count on Me: gave Affleck a star-making role and surrounded him with a fabulous supporting cast, including Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams and young Lucas Hedges in a breakout performance. Manchester By the Sea will surely catapult Affleck to an Academy Award nomination. His is one of those rare performances that feels instantly familiar, not because you know the character, but because you, too, have felt the depth of his emotions.
Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a building handyman whose one-room basement dwelling reflects his emotional vacancy. A phone call notifying him of his brother's death sends Lee back to Manchester, Mass., a small town with oversized memories by which this lonely young man is haunted. In addition to dealing with his late brother's estate, Lee reluctantly becomes the guardian of his young nephew (Hedges), his brother's dying wish. Manchester By the Sea is more than a story of loss or redemption, though. It's about understanding something truly lost is never found, it's just replaced; and even half of a broken heart is better than nothing at all.
Early in the film, we learn winters are so cold in Manchester, Mass., the ground is too hard for burials. As a result, Lee's brother can't be laid to rest until it thaws. What happens as Lee and his nephew wait for Spring is something you won't soon forget.
Manchester By the Sea opens in New York and Los Angeles in mid-November and should be in Boise around Thanksgiving. Put this one at the top of your list of must-see-movies.