If one is interested in a counterpoint to the received wisdom about the plight of the white working class, look no further than to Manchester by the Sea, the finest film I have seen this year.
The usual narrative is that the white working class is in decline because of economic stress. But Manchester by the Sea focuses on its spiritual causes. It is a post-Christian film in two senses. Its structure returns to greatest pagan art form—Greek tragedy—and its content concerns the spiritual void left in places like New England by the decline of Christianity—a decline that also undermines one of the sources for self-discipline needed for flourishing in a republic.
The protagonist of the story, Lee Chandler, is pursued by furies—the Eumenides of Greek tragedy– because of a negligent act shown in a flashback by which he destroyed his young family. Chief among the furies was his now ex-wife who said terrible things about him in the aftermath. Many people in Manchester are furies as well: they don’t want him around and he has left his ancestral home to work in Boston. But the greatest furies are the demons within his own mind. Not only do others not forgive him, he cannot find forgiveness himself.