Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Town

I have watched two films in their entirety. I was singularly displeased with the 2010 film The Town which follows a number of recent similar capers using the latest technology to create super clever thefts but where the main character, sympathetically played by Ben Affleck who also Directed and contributed to the screen play escapes the consequences of his crimes which include attempting to kill legitimate pursuers and his girl friend then uses his share of the theft to restore the local skating rink as a contribution to reducing juvenile delinquency. She is the improbable bank manager of the bank from which the money was stolen. The other irresponsible theme, but frequently vaunted by Hollywood, to appeal to ghetto audiences, is that if only one was brought up in a different environment with different opportunities ones lives would be successful, happy and crime free, in sense of not becoming a criminal. The most well cry is that of Marlon Brando in On the Warerfront, ’I could have been somebody’ if only I had not been made to throw the fight. The basic premise is of course rubbish although I concede that peer pressure will play its part on those whose parents have been weak, inadequate or irresponsible. Harsh but true.

So here is the chronological plot: Ben has been brought up by the parents of a fellow gang member who operate on behalf of the local crime boss played by Pete Postlethwaite who runs a florist. They have undertaken a number of successful and lucrative robberies but without physical violence, of course, which again is another Hollywood mythology suggesting that armed robbery can take place without damaging the lives of those immediately involved. In the latest robbery on a bank the lifelong friend gratuitously beats up one of the senior staff and decides to take the female bank manager hostage. She is terrified when released blindfolded and told to go ahead slowly until she touches water. She fears she is being led towards some chasm to her death so she tips toes as the criminals intended.

To ensure that she does not reveal anything which might lead the police to them her identification with address is taken and she is warned that any suggestion she has helped the police will lead to her death. Ben’s friend wants to take responsibility for checking up but Ben insists that he will find out the position. In order to do this he meets with the woman who in her spare time is part of a local action group which includes work on a community garden. Surprisingly whenever there are shots of them or her in garden there is no one else present, some community garden!. They fall in love and Ben hovers over abandoning his life of crime and telling her the truth about his life.

Meanwhile The FBI have been doing their homework and commenced surveillance on the gang waiting for them to attempt another robbery. I cannot remember if it the FBI or through meeting Ben’s friend that the woman Rebecca Hall as Claire Kingsley works out that he is a hardened criminal. He brings her round by explaining that he was raised by a criminal father in prison whose wife had disappeared and brought up by a foster family part of the sub culture neighbourhood when one does not stand a chance self justification garbage. She falls for this and agrees to run away with him to Florida for a new start.
When he tells Postlewaite and his foster brother of his decision they both react negatively. The friend explains that he once killed a man who was going to kill Ben and Postlewaite says he will kill Claire if the gang do not carry out a major theft of millions of dollars from the local baseball Park (as if the customers pay by cash these days for entry or merchandise. This suggests that everyone in a 50000 crowd buys 70 dollars of fast food, drink and programmes!) Postlethwaite also discloses that he was responsible for the death of Ben’s mother.

The heist appears to go well although the Feds have become aware of when and where through the former girlfriend of Ben, the foster sister who has a child by someone else but who Ben has raised as his own. She splits on Ben, her brother and the others, in part out of revenge for his rejection of her but also from self interest of being kept out of being charged and her daughter taken into public care. The lifelong friend dies in a shoot out rather than going back to prison and the performance by Jeremy Renner was nominated for several major awards as was Pete Postlethwaite who had died after the film was made and who looked ill in his performance.

Ben is the only member of the gang who escapes and the Feds keeps watch with Claire knowing that he will contact and demand she assists or become an accessory to murder. However while she follows the script she makes a comment which is sufficient to alert Ben that he would be walking into a trap. He departs on his own but before this undertakes two actions. The first is to kill Postlewaite and his henchman. He steals a bus to the railway station and takes the train to Florida. I said there were two actions. Claire goes to the Community Garden where she finds Ben’s share of the bank robbery which she puts to restoring the local ice rink. The audience are left to make the assumption that in due course the couple are able to meet up and live together despite the FBI warning that they are a national organisation. It is a well made film but!

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