Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sordid Glory, Heavy on the Sordid

A good piece on Slate about getting cities right on film -- in this case, Boston, and the movie under consideration is Ben Affleck's directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone. The whole thing's worth reading, and its overall take on the movie is positive, but my favorite stretch is this criticism near the beginning:
But in striving to capture Boston in all its sordid glory, Affleck overapplies the grit. The problem struck me in an early scene in which the camera lingers on a gaggle of daytime boozers, and I swear, more than one of them has a cleft palate...

"I wanted something raw and authentic and even a little scuffed up," Affleck told the New York Times recently. For much of the movie, half of Dorchester seems to be standing around outside their creaky wooden houses, just killing time. But as the camera pushes in on dozens of extras—sickly skinny women and gin-blossomed men with complexions like blood sausage—"scuffed up" begins to feel positively generous. At a certain point, the parade of uglies marches past verisimilitude and into freak-show territory. This isn't actually what the people of Dorchester look like. Yes, you can walk into a Dorchester bar and find a healthy crowd at 11 a.m. on a weekday. But give the barflies harelips and cleft palates, and you're overdoing it a bit. It's Dorchester by way of Diane Arbus.


Post a Comment

<< Home