Sunday, September 19, 2010
The Town (2010)
This is one of those situations, much like when I saw Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck's directorial debut, where I have no idea how this movie would play outside of the area, or even outside of the Northeast. For one thing, the packed showing I went to last night burst into cheers when Charlestown was even mentioned in a couple quotes that open up the movie. I can sort of tell, in the AV Club review for the movie the reviewer, Sam Adams (ha!) says, "Although the movie is set in Boston’s blue-collar Charlestown neighborhood, Affleck appears to have moved past the attention to regional flavor that gave Gone Baby Gone some of its special kick. There are clam-chowder accents and Fighting Irish tattoos aplenty..." Which, I suppose, is sort of true...but here's the thing cliched or not, working class guys from these area they have Irish tattoos and tend to where Boston sports apparel. Its cliched but its still regional flavor. And I tend to agree that Affleck doesn't get as deep into the Charlestown neighborhood as he seemed to do in Southie in Gone Baby Gone but that doesn't mean he hasn't made a neat little crime-caper movie here either. Let's be honest: he isn't reinventing the wheel, there's the guy that wants to go straight but his friends are holding him back, there is the obsessed cop on the case, the love interest that helps motivate his change of heart, a Dad with a shady past...it's nothing we haven't seen before, but, in this instance its all done well and interestingly enough that you can move past what might, on the outside, seem like the overly familiar. For one thing, the performances are really good, particularly from Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, and Ben Affleck. The heist scenes are really good (An aside: they were staging these scenes in places like Cambridge, right down the road from us here in Somerville, featuring car chases and shootouts and we never ran into them shooting or even heard about it. I know its 2010 and its weird to say, but, movie magic is wild) The last one in particular where they try to rob pretty much one of Boston's most revered landmarks is pretty amazing. It's weird to say this but I think Ben Affleck is really good at this directing thing: it's not going to win any Oscars but this is a solid genre movie in a another movie about the complex series of familial relationships (at one point an F.B.I. agent says you need a Venn diagram to keep them all straight, its not that complicated, really, but it is complex). These complex bonds that make this Charlestown neighborhood both a home and a prison to people that make their living outside of the law.