The Town (2010)

Directed by Ben Affleck
Written by Peter Craig and Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard

Ben Affleck has been, is, and always will be an interesting player in Hollywood in my opinion. He broke onto the scene with pal Matt Damon, taking home the Academy Award for writing Good Will Hunting. He then became a fairly bankable star. Now, while still acting, he has tried his hand at directing, while also co-writing the screenplays for Gone Baby Gone and this. Gone Baby Gone was a great success. It was a very well made film that entertained and even earned actress Amy Ryan an Oscar nod. So, staying in his beloved city of Boston, Mass., Affleck moves along to The Town, another film based on a novel, but this time it is bank robberies, and romance, that Affleck tackles.

The film follows Charlestown resident Doug MacRay (Affleck) and his team of bank robbers, including Academy Award nominated Jeremy Renner. The film opens on a heist where fiery Jim (Renner) takes an unexpected hostage, the assistant bank manager Claire (Rebecca Hall). When they drop her off, they must track her to make sure she isn’t able to finger them for the job. In doing so, Doug slowly develops a romantic relationship with Claire. But once the heat is turned on by FBI agent Frawley (Jon Hamm), Doug must choose between his town, his new girl, and his long planned escape from the town he loves, but the town which has made him a crook.

What amazes me most about the film is Affleck’s ability to tell the story. So much is made these days about explosions and action, as in Transformers, and little is left to the exposition, the natural drama and intrigue that happens when two people can just have a conversation on screen. For a film about bank robbers, this film is less on action and more on developing the actual story that we have here and for that I applaud Affleck and his team of writers. The dialogue is spectacular and aided by good performances by the cast. Affleck, Hall and Renner are so easy to watch. I credit this to Affleck both as a director and a writer, as the dialogue too is easy to listen to.

Affleck crafts a film that is beautiful and poetic, which is surprising considering the gritty, nasty conditions of both thieves and Charlestown in Boston. The film concludes with a note to the audience that, while acknowledging all the bad people from Charlestown, dedicates the film to all the good, decent people that live in that neighborhood in Boston. Affleck does them justice by painting a portrait of people swallowed by the neighborhood, and gives hope to those that one day hope to break out, despite the countless others that never will. Perhaps not the best film of the year, but one that does better than most and shows that there are still people out there willing to make a film that is more dynamic than bang bang and boom.

R.I.P. Pete Postlethwaite

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