AWFJ Women On Film – “The Town” – Review by Susan Granger

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According to the prologue, there are over 300 bank robberies in Boston every year. And a one-square-mile neighborhood, called Charlestown, has produced more bank and armored car robbers than anywhere in the United States.

Actor/director Ben Affleck plays a Doug MacRay, a savvy Charlestown crook who realizes he’s carrying the burden of a criminal heritage from his incarcerated father (Chris Cooper). As the story begins, Doug and his masked gang brazenly rob the Cambridge Merchant Bank, taking the bank manager, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall of “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”), hostage. Although they quickly release her, she’s traumatized, and when they realizes she lives nearby, they’re terrified that she somehow can identify them.

Rather than eluding her, Doug secretly befriends unsuspecting Claire and a romance develops. She’s an upscale, professional woman whom local Townies torment, calling her a ‘Toonie.’ Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Doug, Claire has agreed to work with determined FBI Special Agent Frawley (Jon Hamm of TV’s “Mad Men”), whose task force is closing in on Doug’s hot-tempered buddy Gem (Jeremy Renner of “The Hurt Locker”), his drugged-up sister Krista (Blake Lively of TV’s “Gossip Girl”) and Fergie

Colm (Pete Postlethwaite), whose neighborhood florist shop serves as a front for the local Irish gang’s various nefarious activities.

No one knows Boston better than Cambridge native Ben Affleck, so a palpable, street-smart authenticity permeates this multi-heist thriller adapted by Affeck, Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard from “Prince of Thieves” by Chuck Hogan, who deduced that, since Charlestown area was once the site of a maximum security prison, the area became a self-perpetuating criminal enclave. And the filming was almost entirely in and around Boston, including Fenway Park, home of Affleck’s beloved Red Sox. After garnering critical acclaim for his directing debut with “Gone Baby Gone,” Affleck once again elicits convincing performances from his entire ensemble, particularly British actress Rebecca Hall who bears a remarkable resemblance to Jennifer Garner, Affleck’s real-life wife.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Town” is a solid, suspense-filled 7. There’s lots of robbin’ in that ‘hood.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.