Friday, June 3, 2011

Movie review: The Town

Normally I am not a fan of Ben Affleck the Actor.  I find him stiff and unnuanced, boorish.  But in The Town, which Affleck also directed and cowrote, I liked him just fine.  Pluswhich, there's very few actors who can do a more authentic Boston accent than he can.

The Town is about a group of Charlestown (a Boston neighborhood) thugs who are very good at robbing banks.  Led by Doug McCray (Affleck), they've caused a lot of grief to the local cops and FBI guys (Jon Hamm and Titus Welliver - and the latter's accent is pretty good, no doubt because he's from Maine).  When the boys pull a bank job in Cambridge, Doug's childhood buddy, Jem (a very menacing Jeremy Renner), takes a hostage, Claire (Rebecca Hall), the bank manager.  They let her go but Doug later approaches her in an attempt to determine if she can identify any of the bank robbers.  She can't, and the two of them hit it off, and it goes from there.  In fact, Doug likes her so well that he wants to get out of the 'Town and try a new life.  But before he can, his crew has to pull one more job, a big one: robbing the "Cathedral of Boston," a/k/a Fenway Park after a NYY-BOS series.

The cast in The Town is loaded.  Along with those already mentioned are Pete Postlethwaite (R.I.P.) as the local heavy; Chris Cooper as Doug's incarcerated dad; and Blake Lively as Jem's gorgeous drug-mule white-trash sister who has a thing for Doug.  (Note: her Boston accent is not so good.)  Shot on location all over Boston, the city is almost another character and it was fun for me to see places I'm familiar with from my three years living in Beantown: the Charlestown bridge, Fenway Park, Harvard Square, the T, the North End (they did a car chase in the narrow streets of the North End! that's some ballsy filmmaking!).

I quite liked The Town with its solid, well-paced story, strong acting and ring of authenticity.  I'm still not willing to entirely approve of Ben Affleck's acting, but the nice job he did in this movie has redeemed him somewhat in my eyes.

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