Manchester by the Sea is a story about ultimately gaining from family loss. Lee Chandler, a Boston-area handyman played by Casey Affleck, suffers a series of tragedies culminating in the loss of his brother. He nearly allows the resulting grief to finish him off, but realizes he has to stay afloat for the sake of his brother’s young son.

I appreciated the interesting contrast between the characters’ deep emotional turmoil and the tranquility of sleepy wintertime Massachusetts. Affleck is convincing as a man trying to keep his head above water in the wake of personal tragedy. Lucas Hedges plays his nephew Patrick, an angry and self-centered teenager who eventually softens toward Lee when he realizes his uncle has been through hell, too. Kyle Chandler and Michelle Williams portray Lee’s brother and ex-wife; Matthew Broderick makes an appearance as the fiancé of Patrick’s mother.

If you don’t care for films that intersperse lots of flashbacks with present-day scenes, this one may not be for you, but I found it easy enough to follow once I figured out all the characters and their roles.

Should you see it? Yes. It has an important message about seeing past your own hurts to try and understand those of others.—J.J.

Viewed at Landmark Plaza Frontenac Theater