Simply the story of a lower middle class, eastern Massachusetts family who encounter a seemingly endless string of mis-fortune, bad luck, an array of illnesses and tragedy.
This film is another following the more and more common movie making flipping back and forth between the modern day and anearlier time (to explain an aspect or character in the film). Manchester By The Sea does a real good job of going backwards and forwards without disrupting the flow of the film.
Casey plays a divorced loner as a Quincy, Mass janitor of 4 buildings living in a shell of a basement, 1 room apartment.. He is extremely quiet and focused on his job. He puts his head down and solves problems all day long. At points, this slumbering volcano can explode with a riff of F-bombs and it actually works. We learn the core of sadness and anger is lodged in a horrid family tragedy and the role his vices may have played.
At the same time, his older brother is played by Kyle Chandler who has also led a similar rough and tumble life. Both brothers were significant impacted as men, fathers and husbands through the unfortunate role-modeling of their father. But as theolder brother who stays in their home town, Chandler has a stronger core.
Tragedy continues to impact their lives and puts Affleck back in a parenting shoes that he thought he would never be entitled to re-visit. Navigating unwanted parenting & guardian roles, despite many mistakes, has great heart and decent instincts performinghis new role.
The entire film is supported by a very different, diverse and outstanding soundtrack. Put that together with the timeless backgrounds of cold New England weather encapsulatinglandscapes, water scenes and architecture and we are generally "all in".
The bonding between Afflect and his nephew (Hedges) is not forced and comes across very real as the the former takes mostly baby steps forward to put their lives back together. When he takes big steps, he later reflects and steps back to undue theerrors of the initial big measure.
I liked the movie alot (and no doubt the film and the actors are going to get plenty of year end award love) but it didn't get deep inside me. I adored the characters and the casting and the script. I could feel the seemingly endless pain, heart ache and missteps. It just got tiring. I didn't need 2 hours and 17 minutes to drink the kool aid and by in. The film had me early on. But on and on it went and it lost me a bit to become a very good film but not an iconic one or even one that I reflected the next day.