BIG SCREEN Movie: The Town Cast: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall
Over the past decade-and-a-half, a slew of crime thrillers set in Boston have been hitting the silver screen at an alarming frequency for you to have any real hopes of witnessing something extraordinary as you walk in to see how Ben Affleck has fared as a director the second time around in “The Town”.
Rest assured he has proved that his directorial debut “Gone baby gone” (one of the best films of '07) was no flash in the pan.
Draws from “Heat”
The plot is old as the hills, at least as old as the Pacino-De Niro starrer “Heat” from which it draws some heavy inspiration. But what sets it apart is that the film is basically a love story disguised as a crime thriller as it focuses as much on the relationship between Doug (Affleck), a skilled thief, and Claire (Rebecca Hall), a bank manager (whom he had once used as bait to get away after a bank heist), as much as it focuses on the honest cop-street smart crook pyrotechnics.
De Niro and Pacino, the legends that they are, took fever pitch excitement to the next level with fiendishly intense performances in “Heat” thereby bringing into being a new sub-genre of cat and mouse games between the crook and the cop into mainstream cinema, something which has never been replicated as successfully.
However if one jots down the list of films which have come the closest to doing that, Affleck's “The Town” would be right up there.
What the film misses in terms of passionate performances (with Affleck the actor being the main culprit) it makes up for with some of the best writing ever done for a motion picture in this genre. Such wit! Such effective communication of ideas!
It is precisely this factor which helps you overlook all the similarities the film has with “Heat” and keeps you grinning from ear to ear. Throw in some smart twists and turns, lean and mean direction, a watertight screenplay and you have the perfect recipe for a summer blockbuster.
Technically the movie is fine where a couple of heist sequences really stand out and the background score just about keeps up with the many moods of the film.
Another aspect of the movie which separates it from the crowd is despite all the in-built optimism it exudes in many a sequence, the climax does surprise you. If only Mr. Affleck had limited his responsibilities to those behind the camera. Still, one of the year's best!!
Bottomline: An alternate career in the making for Affleck!
K. ANANTH, Pursuing Chartered Accountancy