Sunday, October 24, 2010

"The Town" (2010) - Movie Review

“The Town” is a no nonsense story. It falls for the victim of trailer spoilers but there is nothing much to hide either. The genre of crime films based on Boston is more than a genre. As New York or Paris, Boston the city has these neighbourhood and the community becoming a breathing element in these films. What attracts them is the way they differentiate from the set of generalization US gets looked upon. Every one knows the colour, festival and the vibrant culture when one talks about India but the same does not apply to US or the perspective of a unique culture becomes absent. But there is immense amount of it, not in the same sense of magnitude and widespread yet in its own way, it shows out. The coast bears history and it resonates in the close knit community living in it.

We are given in opening information from the magazine quotations about the notorious nature of Charlestown. Nexus for the bank robbers and a place where brotherhood runs like a tattoo. They are good in what they do as this is the business carried on by generation with central operators like Fergie (Pete Postletwaite). Fergie has been running the crew of Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), James Couglin (Jeremy Renner), Magloan (Slaine) and Desmond (Owen Burke). They are no Ocean’s Eleven but they get the job done. In the opening scene, we see them in action. Blunt, focussed, dangerous and successful. This is the film wherein the central characters being bank robbers are made to be afraid instead of glorifying their knack in the profession. We are feared of them because they show their capability.

They take a hostage, bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) and leave her on a beach. James is the sicko in the group of thieves. Doug is the smart one and a man struggling to leave the town and the profession, unsuccessfully. In the duty of following Claire to make sure they did not leave anything behind, as expected Doug gets involved. Doug is soft on guns too as he has not killed anyone, lest forget his shaky past of fighting and getting into trouble. While he knows what James is capable, he cannot leave behind the buddy who has been with him in thick and thin and the fact that he had a long time relationship with his drug addict sister Krista (Blake Lively).

Ben Affleck is a capable director which he proved in his debut “Gone, Baby, Gone”. Here he appears to like the script because it carries his hometown on the backdrop. There is no doubt that aids the film but at the same time I would love to see him direct outside of his comfort zone. As much as his lead man Doug is trying to leave the town, Affleck appears to not share that opinion with his films. Despite, “The Town” is a good film if not great.

The strong suit of “The Town” are the robberies. They are shot with some raw gritty atmosphere to really let the audience feel the heat of the robbery. It is not adrenaline but blunt force in the way of its execution. While James uses bullets whenever he breathes, the people and the surrounding in the Boston becomes of something more than a usual robbery scene. I believe this is the first time I have felt the energy in those actions without any sides and see it objectively. Not in the view of morality but purely as a spectator.

The film is not with suspenses. The rituals of the slightly better thief gets an opportunity to taste a relationship outside of his community are done with good support from Rebecca Hall and some clever writing from Peter Craig, Aaron Stockard and Ben Affleck. Jeremy Renner as the trigger happy friend with an appetite for temper and violence is the holding chamber for Doug.

I liked “The Town” for not fooling around with what it has. Affleck knows that what he has is a story with angles seen several times on several perspectives. He knows that his perspective has to be personal and thus his Boston background to the rescue. It works well and provides a story wherein good and bad are very clear and yet we root for the redeeming criminal doing his redemption in all wrong ways. And Affleck does not apologize for that in his film. He gives an ending which would have been poorly contrived out of necessity in other films while it has some strength to this one.

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