Cahps and Rahbahs

09/15/2010 4:00 AM |

The Town
Directed by Ben Affleck

The Town opens with a shot of Boston’s Bunker Hill obelisk, Charlestown’s Big Hard Cock, alerting you that the exceptional cops-and-robbers picture to follow concerns guys and guy stuff-like, heists. Affleck’s follow-up to Gone Baby Gone, which reeks of Eddie Coyle‘s malefactor melancholy, mines similar territory as his 2007 debut, but moreso it evokes, not least with the silly-sounding accents, the recent spate of Blue Tongue Films out of Australia (Animal Kingdom, The Square): it’s solid genre fare, reinvigorating tired tropes, most notable for its efficiency and sensitivity.

Affleck stars, too, as a bank and armored-car robber who falls in love with a former hostage (Rebecca Hall); he struggles to balance the pressures from new-love, crime and police while secreting his stick-up-man identity from his new gal. (There’s a schmear of Tinseltown schmaltz.) But it’s not really the protagonists that Affleck handles with remarkable tenderness, though Hall’s smile is sweet, Affleck’s manner subdued. It’s the setting.

As in Gone, Affleck compensates for the modest storytelling with his native-son’s sense of place, the familiarity with Boston’s narrow, car-chase-perfect alleys, the highway-abutting diners and cemeteries, his deep feeling for the marginal characters. He’s become the poet laureate of proletariat Beantown and its unique breed of white trash: the oxy’d-out Catholics adorned with silver chains, tracksuits and 02129 forearm-tatts. The Town isn’t about crooks so much-it’s about, as its title hints, The Olde Towne. At the end (spoiler, duh), a Fenway heist does in the movie’s baddest guys. The obvious subtext? Nobody fucks the Sawx. The city itself enforces its cosmic laws.

Opens September 17