The Town

Apparently, after some dubious lifestyle choices (namely JLo) Ben Affleck kind of lost his cool in Hollywood. Not satisfied with the unchallenging film roles he was being offered he decided to 'Good Will Hunting' himself... again.

And I would say The Town is equally innovative, suprising and poignant. I was more suprised that someone has the capacity to do this twice in a career. Afflect wrote, directed and stars in this gritty heist/ human drama set in Charlestown, Boston. This little suburb, we are told, is home to 90% of bank robbers in the state. This particular crime is treated like an art, a skill, passed down through the generations, with each subsequent delinquent getting more sophisticated in how they obtain the money.

The opening scene show's how the 'trade' is done, with Affleck's character 'Doug MacRay' adding a human touch to scenes of brutal violence, as he tries to calm manager Claire Keesey (played by the brilliant Rebecca Hall) as she unlocks the vault. The event is almost as slick and professional as FBI Agent Frawley (played by John 'don draper' Hamm) bemoans, until Keesey spots the distincitve tatoo of MacRay's bff 'Coughlin' and there starts the drama as MacRay's character pursues her to check she won't squeal.

Of course, without giving much away, it's his involvement with Keesey which leads him to question the choices he's made in life. He starts to hope for a new life, an escape from all those around him. That's why this film isn't what I expected, it's not an all guns blazing cops and robbers action-fest (like Bad Boys), neither is it a smooth, stylist heist (like Oceans's 11). It's most definitely a film about human drama, the life we're born into, the dreams we dare to have. MacRay's sudden and unexpeted involvement with Keesey, show's him how the violence, deceit and petty criminality which is so ordinary to him, is so destructive to others.

Keesey is refreshingly a normal girl. MacRay is not her knight in shining armour, though she does question her motives for getting involved with this 'blue colour' bad boy immediately after her kidnapping. Neither does she run off to mummy in the suburbs - rather she stubbornly goes about her day to day life and tries to put the past behind her. We see her working in the community garden, volunteering at the ice-rink kids club - maintaining her independance and not letting the dark sides of society get her down. She's a realist, not an optimist. She accepts people are flawed, people make violent choices because of where they've come from.

I could relate to Keesey, though I'd be much more chicken than she is (I would probably at least find a house mate after surving an abduction) but she also serves a good contrast to the other woman in the film played by Gossip Girl Blake Lively.

Lively's character Krista Coughlin, is the tragic character in this drama. Vulnerable with no self-worth, she throws herself at any man who seems kind to her. She's in love with MacRay (who might be the father of her child) but living up to the 'tough girl' attitude of the town, she hasn't revealed her feelings, or the paternity, to him. In contrast to Keesey who is managing just fine, Keesey so desperately needs rescuing. She begs MacCray to start his new life with her - she longs for the escape as much as he does - and cries out claiming 'I'll be any girl you want me to be' - it's literally the saddest scene in a movie I've seen in ages. You know she won't leave, you know no-one will ever respect her, you know the life which waits for her is one without love. She's played her last card and had it thrown back in her face.

After watching this Affleck has proved that Good Will Hunting and Gone Baby Gone were not flukes, but that he's got real eye for making compelling drama. At least, I hope Hollywood see that, because I'd like to see more.

4 out of 5 - mainly because I was so suprised it wasn't a generic heist movie

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