Vanity Fair‘s John Lopez says the Toronto International Film Fest rings in the “rainmaking clarion call of thoughtful, sophisticated, and artistically ambitious movies,” and singles out The Town as one of the highlights:
As a film-lover, you know you‚Äôre in the right place when even commercially minded Warner Bros. makes sure The Town, Ben Affleck‚Äôs gritty sophomore follow-up to his quietly beloved Gone, Baby Gone, gets a proper roll-out. In The Town, Affleck takes us back to Boston with a gritty gravitas that deserves a Harvard diploma and shot of whiskey, making Scorsese‚Äôs delightfully wry depiction of the city in The Departed look like an episode of Glee with Southie accents. Stocking his film with stellar cast the way drug lords fill their coke-financed personal zoos, Affleck skillfully carves muscular blue-collar performances out of every single one of them: from fresh-faced Jon Hamm to newly Oscar-minted Jeremy Renner, sublimely supporting Pete Postlethwaite, lovely Blake Lively, gently alluring Rebecca Hall, and himself. Of course, there are also plenty of machine guns, and a heart-pounding, high-caliber car chases through the narrow, former-cowpath streets of Boston. Believe us, The Town takes everything seriously. The biggest sign of this is that Affleck reached out to Oscar-winner Chris Cooper to play the role of his character‚Äôs father‚Äîa part with a single, albeit explosive, scene that sits in the middle of the film like a live grenade.
Cooper talks about his preparation for the role, after the cut.
It‚Äôs no surprise that Affleck qualifies as an ‚Äúactor‚Äôs director,‚Äù but Cooper offered some perspective on what that really means. To prepare him for his role as a prisoner, Affleck arranged for Cooper to tour Massachussett‚Äôs famous Walpole prison, and even persuaded the prison‚Äôs officials to let him shoot there. ‚ÄúI need the atmosphere,‚Äù Cooper says, describing his process. ‚ÄúLet me feel that atmosphere. I wanted to observe the guards, observe different prisoners and then see how these guards and prisoners related‚Ä¶. Being there for those hours, coming in off the street, and you‚Äôre in the middle of it, you realize this is those guys‚Äô existence day after day after day after day.‚Äù
So deeply did Cooper fall into character that, during shooting, Affleck directed him through the phone set that prisoners use to talk to their visitors: ‚ÄúWe just wanted to stay in this situation. I don‚Äôt think we took a break except for lunch, and those lunches were boxed and brought into the prison because I‚Äôd stay on my side [of the glass].‚Äù