Ben Affleck’s The Town and the Elements of Bad Drama

I saw The Town last week. Not a big fan, and in thinking about the problems with the movie I thought they described a lot of the more frustrating experiences I’ve had with film and television drama in recent years. I write about this in an essay appearing at The Millions today.

But instead of doing something meaningful with this setup, The Town titillates and teases, and then wanders off. It never acts on the tension it’s created and as a viewer you’re left feeling like you’ve been manipulated by a cheap trick with no payoff. This is unpleasant in its own right and it indicates the con-artist spirit in which The Town was produced. The filmmakers seem to have approached the movie by asking themselves, “how can we elicit a response from the audience” as opposed to the more appropriate question, “how can we tell a good story.”

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2 thoughts on “Ben Affleck’s The Town and the Elements of Bad Drama

  1. Dear Kevin,
    I very much enjoyed reading your analysis of Ben Affleck’s film Town.
    I’ll look forward to reading your work in the future.
    Paul

  2. We just rented The Town and had been looking forward to watching it based on its great reviews and box office success. While watching it, however, we found ourselves looking at each other throughout and going, “really?” Bad dialogue, “So I was standing there in my Underoos…”, stilted acting from Jon Hamm who we usually love on Mad Men…well, you know the rest. I felt compelled to look for reviews that mirrored our own experience. I was dumbfounded by the mostly effusive praise it was receiving including recommendations for awards. Really? Until I ran across yours which summarized almost exactly, yet even better, what we were feeling. The movie wasn’t bad. It just really wasn’t good. My son is in school to become a filmmaker and I told him I thought it would be a good one to watch critically to form ideas on what exactly it was that kept it from working. I’m going to recommend that he read your review too, as I think you outline many likely reasons that is the case. I initially read your review on The Millions and laughed out loud at your response to the commenter who disputed your review, comparing his reasoning to Sarah Palin. Best of all, you made me feel a little less crazy as one of the apparent few who thought The Town was just okay. Thanks!

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