The Town (Ben Affleck, 2010) October 19, 2010Posted by Richard Bolisay in Hollywood.
Directed by Ben Affleck
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively
Based on the novel by Chuck Hogan
As early as now The Town is being hailed as one of the year’s best films, and it’s hard to argue otherwise if you also share the views of its supporters. True, it’s a well executed action drama whose heavy-handedness shoots like a bullet in the head. True, its moments of brilliance stick out, which makes the viewing experience rather unsettling, like listening to a lecture on the history of violence and feeling all the narrated violence happening to you, bit by bit, bruise by bruise, blood by blood. And yes, another truth, Ben Affleck is a gifted director. I never doubted that. In fact, in this fucked-up time when I care so little about cinema, I decided to see The Town because I was so impressed by his previous film, Gone Baby Gone. When you give a kid a gun without explaining to him what to do with it, The Town is the film you get. Unfortunately, that kid decides to cast himself as the lead actor too. And that, I think, is my only problem with the film. The Town sucks a bit because Ben Affleck has chosen to direct himself. For instance, when his character goes on narrating about his mother, it’s painful to look at him without wincing and thinking “dear, you should’ve called me, you’re always welcome in my bed!” On the other hand, Gone Baby Gone works tremendously because of Casey Affleck, and I’m sure Ben can wholeheartedly concede to the fact that his brother is a better actor than he is. The role is simply not for Jennifer’s hubby. Another instance: when Ben has this heated argument with Jeremy Renner, which ends with the two of them gasping for breath—either too tired of brawling or too overwhelmed by the thrill of touching each other’s body—you can’t take your eyes off Jeremy. Ben is OK, but you won’t give a damn and look through him. The only time you gape at him intently is when he’s doing all these pull-ups and you are lustfully reminded by the same bemusement while watching George Clooney in The American. Except for his six inches, you wish Jon Hamm is one of the thugs too, so you could see him loosen up. And when you get tired, you can always go back to Jeremy and try to deconstruct his hurt-locking face. The accent of the people in Charlestown slightly puts me off, but I guess I don’t have to catch every word they say just to know what they mean by fuck off and get a life. The Town is neat but it’s Heat with no idea of warmth.