Well deserving his best actor Oscar, Casey Affleck is heartbreakingly good as a man overwhelmed by grief and guilt.

In this superb drama from writer-director Kenneth Lonergan, his character is a prickly, truculent Boston janitor who reluctantly returns to his New England hometown (the coastal Manchester of the title) to care for his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedge) after the death of his older brother (Kyle Chandler).

Lonergan directs with quiet restraint, slowly revealing Affleck’s back-story and the ghosts that are haunting him. This is a film about despair, but it is not depressing. What we get, though, is bracing honesty in the face of tragedy rather than sentimental closure.

Affleck’s magnificent performance anchors the film, but every single role is brilliantly played, from Hedges’ awkward teen to Michelle Williams as Affleck’s ex-wife.