The Town

Ben Affleck has directed a second movie with a real sense of place in Boston, The Town. Since I grew up outside of Boston, it’s really nice to see a movie which is set in Boston and has characters whom one can believe actually grew up there. Plus it has several scenes in Cambridge, where I grew up, and they were actually shot in Cambridge.

The only slightly discordant note was that it was hard to believe that the Rebecca Hall character would actually live in Charlestown. She looked and acted entirely South End to me. I know people who have lived in a lot of different neighborhoods in Boston and the surrounding cities and towns, but I’ve never known anybody who lived in Charlestown who didn’t grow up there. Still, I suppose there must be a few.

It was also a good movie apart from the setting, by the way. Ben Affleck seems to be heading toward Clint Eastwood territory, which is probably a good thing for him to try considering the number of horrible movies he’s been in.

I also recently saw a movie which completely failed to have a sense of place, although it was essential to the plot. Going the Distance is about a long-distance romance between Drew Barrymoore in San Francisco and Justin Long in New York. The movie was adequate, but for me it was really damaged by the fact that despite the plot hinging on where the characters lived, the San Francisco scenes were very obviously not shot in San Francisco.


  1. gumby said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

    Have you seen “Gone Baby Gone?” I think it was a stonger film.

    I do get a kick out of Affleck’s films because they do give you the feel of living in Boston, unlike most films set in Boston (e.g. Mystic River, an otherwise very good film). I don’t know why Hollywood doesn’t usually get this right. A possible clue is a comment from my friend who saw The Town with me: “could you understand everything they said?”

    Unlike you, I went to school in West Roxbury and my classmates came from all over the city. You really can pick out where someone lived as soon as he opens his mouth. GBS would have loved it. It’s a shame that in California (which is a much bigger place than Massachusetts, much less Boston) the accents are all homogenized.

  2. Ian Lance Taylor said,

    October 20, 2010 @ 6:18 am

    Hi Gumby. I agree that Gone Baby Gone was stronger; I wrote about it too three years ago. I completely agree with you about the films and the accents, though it didn’t occur to me that some people might have had a hard time understanding some of them. My wife did not grow up in the Boston area and had no trouble understanding the people in the film, but then one of our friends when our family lived in Cambridge grew up in and still lives in Charlestown, with of course the full accent. In fact we could see his house in several of the aerial shots.

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