This has got to be one of the best movies I've seen in recent times. An earlier non-existent respect for Ben Affleck is now at a high. (Although to be fair, I should also state my admiration for his and Matt Damon's Oscar-winning original script for the brilliant "Good Will hunting").
Casey Affleck's performance took some time to get used to during the movie, mainly because you're expecting so much more emotion from someone in his role. Rather than waste words, I'll just quote Manohla Dargis
Most actors want you to love them, but Casey Affleck doesn’t seem to know that, or maybe he doesn’t care. Patrick doesn’t cuddle or kiss up. He takes the job Bea offers despite the reluctance of his live-in girlfriend and partner, Angie (a solid Michelle Monaghan), but he doesn’t look like anyone’s idea of a savior. With his sneakers and jeans and small-man’s swagger, he comes off like one of those toughs who never leave the neighborhood and would sooner swing a bat at your head than at a ball.Old reliables Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman's deliver predictably strong performances. On the ratings front, no surprise then that the movie gets a 93% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes
But leave aside all that. I loved the movie for the beauty of the camera work. And this, expectedly as the DVD features showed, was a key element of the movie. From the first frame to the last, city and community form the vivid canvas for the movie. Some scenes of decay reminded me of HBO's path-breaking and recently concluded "The Wire" (whose depiction of inner city decay was of course on a totally different and deeper level).
Also, if you are going to see the movie look out for the opening and closing lines. Haunting lines of dialogue. I haven't read the book, but if I eventually do, I'll write that down as one of the rare cases of a movie making me want to read the book.
Inner city decay on film has always been an issue close to my heart and I wish it was delved into depth more often in India. And no, despite it's alluring title, I do not include the tepid "Life in a Metro" because that movie was more characters and not city. And no that Irrrffann Khan line of "Ye shehar bahut deta hai aur usse jyaada leta hai" left me unmoved. Yawn.
Still, I shouldn't crib because there's still so much better cinema with Bombay as an integral, even central, character. This theme was explored on this blog in the Reel Life Bombay series where fellow bloggers Filmiholic and Punds were kind enough to pen some fine posts on Bombay in movies. Do read and let me know if you've seen any movie where you also remember the city it was shot in.
[Disclaimer: For those expecting racy, exciting, detective, murder-mystery kinda stuff that makes you fall from your chair every 10 seconds and leaves you bum sore, please don't see this movie.]