The Town: A Meh Title for a Meh Film

Summer Film Challenge 2011
REPORT #3
Date: 15 June 2011
Film: The Town
My Rating: 6/10

First of all I need to clarify the reason for this film being on my Summer Film Challenge List.  It is not because this film is widely heralded as an amazing bit of cinema, a modern classic.  It is not one of Ryan’s favorite movies that I needed to see in order to understand the real him.  I watched The Town because I don’t like the title. Ryan pointed out that I was judging a book by it’s cover (ie – title) and made me actually read it before passing full judgement.  Unfortunately for the axiom, it seems I was right all along – the title isn’t that great (which I will get into) and the film is only just above “meh”.

Basic overview: It was okay.  The production value was good, story was pretty decent with a few nice tweaks, and the acting was definitely above average.  Particularly, I thought that Blake Lively destroyed her small role as the drugged-up whore girlfriend of Ben Affleck.  I thought she did an amazing job.  Otherwise, it was just okay. Followed the typical “last job” pattern with a bit more grit and a lot less “wow! this is totally new and amazing!”

My biggest issue with the movie is that, while there was more “Town” in it than I expected, it still isn’t the focus of the film, and thus I don’t know why it is called that.  I went in expecting the focus to be entirely on the characters and not the setting but there were a few references Charlestown, especially the beginning, which did give some validity to the name but not nearly enough.

A title tells me what your film is about.  It is the last profound punch of the film.  It focuses me one what the artist is trying to convey – be it answer or question.  If you call something THE something, you had better be right.  “The” implies not just an individual but a singularity, an importance, a point that this above all else stands out.  Let me give you some examples:

  • THE Godfather
  • THE Lord of the Rings
  • THE Silence of the Lambs
  • THE Bible
  • THE Once and Future King (read it!)

“The” has dropped from its truly royal position in the kingdom of words to that of a lowly article, simply the filler between the important nouns and verbs.  That really doesn’t jive with me. When I see a “the” I think “Singular” and “Important” (it is not called a murder weapon; it is called THE murder weapon.)

Having said that, I really don’t think that this film is about the town of Charlestown or it’s effects on the characters.  There is the influence but the filmmakers chose to stick with who the characters are more than how the community has ruined them.  I do like the parallelism that occurs at the end with the scene from before (no spoilers). That was a nice touch. However it isn’t about the locations of the people but the connections between them.
Another thing I wasn’t crazy about was the long monologues detailing backstory. Affleck had at least two spots I can think of where he just laid his whole past on the table.  While I get that he is reaching out for acceptance and understanding in a female figure, I doubt that someone having come from a tough-as-nails, fight-to-live environment like Charlestown would just totally go teenmo (teen emo) on their first real girlfriend.  Just saying.

So there you go.  You just got my rant about movie titles with “The _____” and my third Summer Film Challenge 2011 review!  Freebie!  Thanks and I’ll leave you with the only face of Ben Affleck:

Yup…That’s it!

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Author: Tyler D. Welch

Filmmaker, Storyteller, Scholar

3 thoughts on “The Town: A Meh Title for a Meh Film”

  1. If the film is only “okay” why does it have a 7/10 rating? That merits at least a “good” if you look at our ratings definition. It’s fine by me if you think the movie’s only meh, but if that’s the case, please show that in your rating as we defined it, or else it gets confoosing! Your rating tells me you liked it, but your review tells me you weren’t so crazy about it. See what I mean? I don’t really know if you liked it or not. Just some (hopefully) friendly advice.

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