Fri, 08 Oct 2010 12:36:51 GMT

'Town' further reveals Affleck's talent

Review of The Town


'The Town' may not have quite the emotional heft of 'Gone Baby Gone', Ben Affleck's startlingly assured 2007 directing debut.

What it has instead, though, is a greater technical complexity, a larger scope, and the promise of a director who's well on his way to establishing a distinctive vision and voice.

Affleck also has a way with his actors -- unsurprising, having been one himself for so long and not always getting the credit he deserves -- and he's once again attracted some tremendous talent: Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm and Chris Cooper, who leaves his mark in just one powerful scene. Even Blake Lively is surprisingly good, playing against type as a damaged single mom.

But besides directing and co-writing the script with Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard, Affleck himself is at the center of the action in front of the camera, starring as the leader of a Boston bank-heist crew and giving the best leading performance of his career. (Yes, of course everyone enjoyed 'Chasing Amy', but previously he'd stood out best as a supporting player in films like 'Hollywoodland','Extract','Boiler Room' and 'Shakespeare in Love')

And so here he is, in a location he knows well surrounded by actors at the top of their game, making a movie that, like 'Gone Baby Gone', oozes authenticity. Locals will split hairs, since Affleck is from Cambridge and the movie takes place in Charlestown -- and there's even a thrillingly staged police chase on the narrow streets of the North End, not exactly the easiest place to flee quickly -- but it's that kind of insularity that's crucial to the film's themes of secrecy and loyalty.

And yes, everyone gets the accent right, something that can often go so horribly wrong in a movie set in New England.

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