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.”