Since I plan on reviewing The Town this Saturday for The Badger Herald I figured I’d do a quick revisit to Affleck’s directorial debut.
You feel it as soon as the film starts. First, with the haunted slums of Boston and next with discouraged voice of Casey Affleck. The orchestral strings of Harry William’s score screech along the background and it becomes clear: a child has gone missing.
We're introduced to our detectives and soon we’re in the broken home of the little girl. Director Ben Affleck has us at this point. We’re emotional invested. Style and execution are strong so far. All he needs to do is follow through with the story. Give us something interesting, something that helps us remember that feeling that he so brilliant planted in the opening scenes.
The plot begins to unfold. Our married couple of crime dogs (Casey and Michelle Monaghan) hits a few dead ends, then they open up, only to close again soon after. They look in the cracks of the neighborhood and then check their information with local police. A star studded cast including Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris make boring investigation details interesting enough to watch. It’s important because like all good mysteries, a good sense of all the details make the reveal all the more impressive.
Most of the investigation revolves around the little girl’s mother Helene McCready (Amy Ryan). The worst product of a damaged environment; this mom is a kind of monster that gives Norman Bates mother a run for her money. An hour into the film a major event occurs that changes the nature of the mystery. The film is so strong at this point that it could end I’d be happy with the experience. However, the film presses on. It has more to say.
All of the story’s obstacles (the town, the parents, the gangsters and the police) are revolving around a certain truth. A truth, that when exposed is not only a worthy reveal but also a spark that leads to a whole new set of questions. A procedural genre film that is usually judged on execution is now dealing with a pumping set of emotions. This extra drama, while exhausting, makes this good film a really good film.
The difference between right and wrong are frighteningly close in this story. The morality of the main characters are tested enough to live up to the high stakes that the film presents. Not all of the questions are answered by the end of the film but there’s so much going on, only after multiple viewings would this become a legitimate problem that affects the viewing experience. It’s an outstanding debut and I can’t wait to see Affleck sophomoric effort in the days to come.