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A Stew of Laziness: Ben Affleck’s The Town and the Elements of Bad Drama

By posted at 6:00 am on October 8, 2010 13

coverI am by nature an optimist, and so I usually begin watching a movie ready to be enthralled. It’s up to the movie to prove that such expectations are unjustified. I find with bad movies that usually there comes a point at which I realize that no matter what follows, there’s little chance that the film is going to be good. This can be a stilted scene which provides a deductive foothold (as in, “it’s highly unlikely that a good movie would contain a scene like that”) or it’s a plot turn so poorly-conceived that there’s no way the movie could possibly recover from it.

Last week I saw Ben Affleck’s new Boston crime drama The Town. After the first fifteen minutes of action I thought it might be good. Forty minutes in, though, there was no doubting the opposite. The point of no return came when bank-robbing tough-guy from the ‘hood Doug MacRay (Affleck) interacted with the putatively well-bred Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall) for the first time over quarters in a laundromat. The pickup lines were stilted, the smiles preordained, the chemistry inert—and it was clear that if their relationship was meant to carry the bulk of the movie’s narrative tension, then The Town was sunk. And so, ninety minutes later, it was.

On the way home I was a little steamed. It was frustrating that the movie had turned out to be dud and all the more so given that The Town, with its stratospherically high 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, seemed to have taken in a good number of America’s cinematic tastemakers. (No need to mention it in the comments—I’ve already switched my loyalties to the more nuanced MetaCritic.)  Usually I’m happy enough to leave my assessment of a movie at the level of broad strokes—to say of The Town that it’s unimaginative and a touch lazy—but the more I thought about the movie’s flaws the more I found that they attach to many of the frustrating dramatic experiences I’ve had over the years, be it with the contrived plotting of the fourth season of The Sopranos, or with almost any of the melodramas Clint Eastwood force fed the American public this past decade.

Plot Arrhythmias: There’s a reason that kids learning to write fiction in grade school are taught beginning-middle-end structure. It fits the way we instinctively like our stories. With heist movies there are reliable formulas, typically involving a theft at the beginning which establishes the cunning and audacity of the protagonists, a long middle section in which emotional tensions within and between characters are explored and the stakes are set, and then a blow-out finale in which the protagonists undertake their most ambitious heist yet and either get paid or played depending on the type of mood the filmmakers are aiming for.

The Town fumbled this order and as a result never managed to generate narrative steam or a sense of emotional consequence. The movie opened with a less-than-scintillating but still entertaining bank robbery and it closed with a ‘heist-of-the-century’ shoot-out at Fenway Park. But wedged between these two requisite elements was another extended robbery sequence which gobbled up the middle part of the movie. This misplaced action occupied the space that should have been used to invest the audience in the characters. When it finally ended my friend looked at her watch.  It felt like the movie should have been winding down but there was still an hour left, which left The Town in the unenviable position of being flatfooted halfway through the race.

Overreaching: Movies, like people, work best when they’re comfortable in their own skin and don’t try to be something that they’re not. The Town was a muddle. It should have been a straight-up, fluffy, entertaining action movie. Instead the script tried awkwardly to fill out Affleck’s character with a backstory of maternal abandonment.  This was communicated most explicitly during an excruciating multi-minute monologue in which MacRay tells Claire about the day his mom left home, a monologue that could be used in film schools to dramatize the perils of staring in a movie that a movie that you also direct.  It was a high-risk gambit that failed, and by failing highlighted the overall shoddy quality of the movie (in the same way that cheap fixtures in a new house should give you pause about the attention that was paid to the foundation). I would have preferred that Doug MacRay had been a bad-ass, but then again part of Affleck’s charm has always been that even with his Southie accent, he’s still a bit of a sissy.

Narrative Dead-Ends: After beginning-middle-end structure, the most inviolable tenet of dramatic writing is Chekov’s admonition, “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.” The Town flouted this egregiously. In the opening heist sequence Claire, the bank manager, spies a distinctive tattoo on MacRay’s best friend and accomplice, the volatile and violent Jim Coughlin. Later in the movie MacRay and Claire have gotten involved, and there’s some genuine tension created when the intricacies of this triangle become apparent: If Claire ever puts the pieces together she’ll have to choose between fingering Charlie and protecting her new lover, while MacRay has to choose between love and loyalty to his best friend. The blue-collar, bank robbing code he lives by requires him to tell Jim about this potentially incriminating witness, even if that means Jim would likely drop Claire’s body into the Charles River.

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.”

Unoriginality: Here I’m not after Picasso-type originality; I just mean fresh like a new coat of paint on an old barn. A good heist movie needs an element of sexiness—like cool James Bond-style gadgets or an ingeniously imagined caper. In The Town, at the moment when things looked the direst for Affleck and company, I was ready to be wowed by an improbable means of escape. Instead, the best they could come up with was to have MacRay and Jim don police uniforms and blend in with the onrushing Boston PD. It was a ruse we’ve seen a hundred thousand times and I felt let down by the movie, but also by the filmmakers who couldn’t have put more than four minutes of thought into writing it.

A romance even the filmmakers didn’t believe in: The gaping hole at the center of The Town is MacRay’s relationship with Claire. The problems with it are many. I would say it’s entirely unclear why be-pearled Claire would be attracted to be-muscled MacRay for anything more than a weekend romp. But there is an antecedent problem, which is that Claire is a completely blank character. We get from the fact that she speaks without an accent and is derided as a “toonie” (a yuppie) that she’s an outsider from a higher social-class than MacRay, but this is only at the level of vague suggestion. Not a single concrete detail is offered about who she is or where she comes from or why she acts the way she does. Not one. It’s a stunning omission, really. I could have given the script to any of a hundred people and the first critique all of them would have made is the one often heard about female characters in Hollywood productions that Claire’s character needs to be at least a little more fully-imagined. Yet somehow The Town passed through who knows how many industry hands without anyone pointing out this bedrock problem or moving to address it.  It’s a telling indictment of big studio culture that it’s even possible that this could have happened.

From this root deficiency other problems sprout. The most damming is the stuttering way that MacRay’s and Claire’s relationship unfolds. They meet at the laundromat, go out for a drink, share a meal and a weepy garden confessional, yet many scenes in it’s still not clear if they’re friends or lovers. When they finally kiss, they do so in a way that suggests they’ve kissed before, but who knows.  The relationship was imagined as “Ben Affleck’s going to fall for a girl who’s above him and it’s going to create problems” but no one seems to have thought about how to execute this idea, to turn it from a stock concept into something that grows on the screen.

The Town was not the worst movie I’ve ever seen by a long shot, and most of its shortcomings are so common in big release movies and serial television dramas (even the most highly regarded ones like The Sopranos) that they could easily slide by without being remarked upon. But still, no matter how often I encounter poorly imagined fiction it still incites a visceral response. It makes me angry whenever I see something valuable and important treated cheaply. The Town gestures towards consequential aspects of experience—that childhood wounds linger, that friendships fracture under duress, that love sometimes stands at odds with other necessities in life, that there is power in storytelling—but it does so with the disregard of a knock-off artist trying to make a forgery just good enough to pass. And like the forger, the crime is not so much in the facsimile as it is in the pawning, the asking of the audience to invest emotional energy in a fabrication of life.





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13 Responses to “A Stew of Laziness: Ben Affleck’s The Town and the Elements of Bad Drama”

  1. jacqueline dubois
    at 7:21 am on October 8, 2010

    I am grateful for your having written such a comment on ‘The Town’. I, personally, thought it was the best of the series of bad movies I had seen since I had enjoyed so much ‘The Bank Job’ on the same subject., which has the qualities you insist ‘The Town’ should have. Yet, I did not feel like leaving the place after the first 15 fatal minutes and the action sustained my interest. As you mention Clint Eastwood, I even thought I could compare Ben Affleck to him : there is a sense of cohesion in the choices made – a recurrent setting (Boston for Affleck), a likable doomed baddie, a minimalist way of acting of the main protagonist-director- therefore the particular and strong signature of a creator.

  2. Daniel
    at 11:13 am on October 8, 2010

    Disagree with this wholeheartedly, though your analysis is thorough, and, of course, “to each his own.” I thought that as far as formulaic movies go (because what else could this be?), the movie was extremely well done. The same acting issues you see as flaws were completely intentional and well suited to the movie. Give a screen vet like Affleck a little more credit. His performance was understated, as was Jeremy Renner’s– who was the best thing in the film and played a Boston guy with not much to him, no real ambitions beyond robbing banks and being with his buddies, because that’s who the character IS. The same goes for Affleck’s relationship with the girl. We don’t need to see any real, harrowing, gripping emotional connection btwn them because Affleck’s character doesn’t need that to be happy. As far as he’s concerned, she’s cute, kind, soft, unlike any girls from Charlestown (certainly the antithesis to Blake Lively’s whorish character) and so that’s enough for him to want to leave with her. And it’s enough for her, too– I think we see enough (sure, maybe the bare minimum) to see that she’s pretty modest, quiet, calm, just wants to work with kids and have a job and be with someone who treats her well.

    AND bottom line: their relationship, I’d argue, is not the core of the film, nor is it meant to be. The point of the movie is MacCray’s relationship to his town, his upbringing, the traditions of his nabe, and his relationship with Renner. That’s why the climax of the movie, I’d say, is after the Fenway heist, when Renner gets “got” (resisting specifics here since I think spoilers aren’t ok to reveal until a movie’s out of the theatres).

    It’s too bad you didn’t love this one. Worse, though, is that you’re abandoning Rotten Tomatoes simply because The Town has a great score on there!

  3. Ben Affleck’s The Town and the Elements of Bad Drama | Kevin Hartnett
    at 12:16 pm on October 8, 2010

    […] 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 […]

  4. GiovanniGF
    at 12:40 pm on October 8, 2010

    I had no interest in watching The Town – it didn’t look like the kind of movie I enjoy – but I really enjoyed reading your review. Great job.

  5. Emily St. John Mandel
    at 12:48 pm on October 8, 2010

    What Daniel said.

    Loved the movie; also enjoyed reading this piece, even if I did thoroughly disagree with it.

  6. John Williams
    at 2:34 pm on October 9, 2010

    Yeah, add me to the list of people who liked this review but disagree with it. I’m glad you took the time to analyze a mainstream movie piece by piece, but I don’t think this is the movie that best fits the criticisms. It certainly has holes, but I agree with Daniel that the core of the movie is not the romantic relationship but the character’s relationship to his hometown and the people in it (like Renner, who is very good in this). I don’t think Affleck is reinventing the wheel as a filmmaker, but between this and Gone Baby Gone, I think he makes a nice wheel.

  7. Rodney
    at 5:14 am on November 2, 2010

    K. Hartnett,

    I work in the industry. Read scripts every week. Have written several as well. Watch tons of films. THE TOWN was incredibly exciting, interesting, and Ben Affleck did a fantastic job with it, acting and directing. It was what a film is supposed to be—well worth the ticket price in entertainment value. Your review is ridiculously overcritical, in spots entirely off-base, and I dare say completely misleading because the film is already a huge success. It has returned $130M worldwide and there’s still a long way to go before this thing sunsets. Box office is the voice of the people, and in our business that’s the only voice that carries any real weight, and the people have definitely spoken—THE TOWN is a winner. Perhaps it is not Ibsen, but if it was, it would probably have already lost all the investors’ money and have opened in only two art house screening rooms in eight of the largest cities in America, which of course impacts few people, and in losing the investors’ money would negatively impact the industry, job creation, and the economy at large. I suggest you see the film again and this time go with a desire to be entertained instead of looking for flaws with a microscope for the sake of finding, uhm, flaws with a microscope.

  8. Kevin Hartnett
    at 3:33 pm on November 2, 2010

    Rodney-

    I appreciate your response, particularly given your perspective as an industry-insider. It’s fair to say that different constituencies have different ways of considering a movie’s worth. Art critics have one, investors have another. My own perspective, such as I can make it out, is just as someone who gets out to see a movie once a month and hopes when he does to be absorbed by it for a couple hours before walking out of the theater and back into real life.

    So, for one, I dont think you have me pegged correctly. Second, you make some provocative statements that, whether you intended them as such, are in keeping with a perspective that is regrettably endemic in our country. I was reminded of Sarah Palin when I read your suggestion that merely critiquing the storytelling of a big budget movie implicates me as an “art house” elitist and when you said that the only true measure of a movie’s quality is the number of Americans who shell out $10 to see it. It’s also Palin-esque as a dodge to avoid talking about the substance of the points I made, none of which you address beyond merely stipulating that the movie was “interesting” and that Ben Affleck did a “fantastic job with it.” And Palin herself could not have come up with a better gambit then to suggest that such elitism threatens the health of the American economy and “job creation” for real Americans.

    That said, the point you made that I disagree with most is this idea that dramatic quality and entertainment value are somehow distinct. I went to see The Town for the purpose of being entertained (just as I’ve been with several commercially successful films this year). The fact that I wasnt had nothing to do with any kind of microscope and everything to do with the plain fact that the team behind The Town broke or ignored several very basic elements of good storytelling (see above).

  9. Emily
    at 5:27 pm on February 16, 2011

    Hey Kevin—just read this—a provocative take-down, and one I disagree with pointedly. I also disagree with Rodney. My point of contention with Rodney: Making a lot of money only means a movie’s good if you’re the one making the money. For viewers who value good writing and character-driven plots and who’re averse to melodrama, action, and slapstick, most of the top-grossing films of all time are deeply disappointing (re-watch Titanic or the last two Pirates of the Caribbean movies if you have doubts about this) rather than the best of the best, as you suggest they should be in your money=goodness correlation.

    But I still agree with Roday that this essay misunderstood and underestimated The Town. Daniel’s touched on why I disagree with you but I’d like to take it a little further. The Town’s not an action movie–it’s a movie about class masquerading as an action movie. Perhaps the reason it “fails” for you in some conventional story-structure aspects of the action genre, is because in its heart of hearts it isn’t an action movie. (Although, frankly, I found it pretty compelling as an action movie, and I don’t like action movies. The nun-car chase scenes and the Cathedral of Boston sequence were about as good as movie heists get for me—they were well shot—in a way that recalls Greengrass’s approach in the Bourne movies but was a little less chaotic. I also liked the film’s attention to detail: the crew showering and scrubbing their skin with heavy-duty scrub brushes the night before the heist; then collecting hair clippings from barbers in Charlestown to foil DNA collection; the uniform switches in the Cathedral heist; the nun masks, which I found particularly haunting somehow in a movie about an Irish (Catholic) community).

    But back to my point about genre: The real, defining question of The Town has nothing to do with heists. It is: “Will Doug get out of Charlestown?” Will he get off the streets and lose the street mentality that made him the sort of guy who fucked up his first shot at getting out (his spot in the NHL)? We’re given ample evidence that Doug isn’t satisfied with his life, his friends, his romantic prospects, his enslavement to The Florist (RIP Pete Postlethwaite). The place is poison to him and he doesn’t want to end up in prison or back on the bottle, as he’s pretty much sure to do if he stays and keeps working for The Florist.

    When Doug falls in love with Claire, he’s not just falling in love with Claire, he’s falling in love with the idea of the world Claire represents—a world that isn’t Charlestown and doesn’t work by Charlestown’s rules (which are the only ones he knows—little good though they have done him). (Incidentally, when Claire falls in love with Doug, the man who took her hostage, she’s doing what women in fiction have been doing for centuries, she’s falling for someone who may well do her harm (think Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Rebecca—there’s a great article on this called “Someone Is Trying To Kill Me And I Think It’s My Husband”—Another kudos to Mr. Affleck for getting this plot in there too). The choice between Claire and Krista isn’t really about them as individuals, but about where Doug wants to be and who he wants to be. Krista is sexually self-exploiting, only capable of sexually charged interactions; She IS Doug’s mother (an addict with a kid she doesn’t want)—and he doesn’t want her. Claire is a person first and woman second, she’s thoughtful and earnest; she listens, she’s gentle and emotionally self-aware; she takes Doug as he is; she isn’t on the make (that’s why the sexiness/romance is downplayed in her relationship with Doug—it’s not about sex/romance—and how rare this is too! A relationship that’s not sex-driven—and in a major Hollywood film no less!).

    You can also see the film’s true plot in Doug’s interactions with Coughlin /Jeremy Renner’s character (another fabulous performance—this alone was worth the admission for me! It really did nothing for you?). Doug is pulling away—he wants out of Charlestown—and Coughlin would almost rather kill him than lose him. And I actually liked the ending of The Town I saw in an advanced screening better: Doug doesn’t escape, he gets shot by the two Hispanic thugs he attacked with Coughlin in hockey masks. I felt like the movie was better suited to out and out tragedy because for most people who find themselves in Doug’s situation, there often isn’t a way out. Not sure if this alternate ending would have suited you better too.

    As for your disappointment that Renner’s glimpsed tattoo doesn’t “go off” like a Chekov-ian gun, I thought it was great that it didn’t. If the tattoo had been the undoing of the heist gang, that would have been kind of cheap, don’t you think? And don’t you like it when story-tellers play with your narrative expectations—and when they upend those expectations?

  10. mplo
    at 12:49 pm on March 12, 2012

    Excellent review, Kevin Hartnett. I was waiting on this thread, and I so agree with it!

    I had been looking forward to seeing The Town, because I like movies (and books, too) that’re about Boston and it’s history. The Town was highly overrated and rather junky. The Boston accents, especially on the part of Ben Affleck, were way forced, unnatural-sounding and overdone, the shoot-outs, car-chases and car crashes in the North End and Fenway Park were totally unrealistic; nobody could’ve/would’ve survived them. There would’ve been broken, bloodied bodies all over the place!

    This is not to say that people of different socioeconomic classes, ethnicities, races, and religions don’t interdate, fall in love and intermarry in real life, because they do. However, the idea of Claire, an educated woman who makes a decent salary as a bank manager and owns and expensive condo in the gentrified section of Charlestown dating and falling in love with a guy like Doug MacRay (who turned out to be the ringleader of the guys who knocked over her bank and abducted her at gunpoint after bearing her co-worker nearly to death), is unrealistic. It just doesn’t sit well with me, and I just didn’t buy it. Plus, as your post pointed out, the Doug/Claire romance was tepid at best, and immature at worst. No real chemistry between them, at all.

    The alternative ending that you saw, where Doug ultimately gets his comeuppance (being killed by the thugs that he and Jem attacked in their apartment) sounds like it was a much more sensible ending to the film.

    Thanks again for this review of The Town, Kevin. It was spot-on!

  11. mplo
    at 12:50 pm on March 12, 2012

    I also agree that the Doug/Claire romance took up much too much of The Town.

  12. mplo
    at 7:10 pm on July 26, 2012

    This is something that still continues to dog me, even though I’ve written about it so many times. Why, oh why do so many people fall for such a hyped-up, cheap, overrated, trashy movie such as The Town, and, more to the point, refuse to accept dissenting opinions on it? It beats me…I don’t know!

    I admit to one thing, however: The Town left me rooting for the cops and the FBI, especially Agt. Adam Frawley and wanting them to catch Doug MacRay and his men and send them to jail for their crimes, and to have Claire either criminally prosecuted herself for being an accessory to Doug’s crimes and for tipping him Doug off with a “sunny days” code and enabling him to elude the law, or at least put on some sort of probation for her bullshit. Sure, I sympathized with Claire at first, because she was the victim of an armed bank robbery, which wasn’t her fault, but I completely lost my sympathy for her when she not only got involved, wholesale, in a romance with Doug, but refused to sever all contacts with him even after she learned through Agt. Frawley who Doug MacRay really was, and what he was up to.. Unlike most people, who are sympathetic with Ben Affleck’s character in that film, and with Claire, I am not.

    Why should I be sympathetic to either Doug or Claire? The idea that Doug MacRay wanted to change and redeem himself through Claire is utter bullshit, especially after he engaged in an act of vigilantism by taking the law into his own hands, going back to Charlestown, and gunning down Rusty and Fergie just because they threatened Doug’s ladygirl Claire with physical harm. Come on now! Doug MacRay’s still a criminal and he was not the decent guy he came across as when he and Claire met “by chance” in a C-Town laundromat.

    Doug MacRay, like his friends and partners in crime, are not only skilled, disciplined and ruthless in their quest for quick money through parasitic behaviors such as armed robbery, and who’d unquestionably kill or seriously injure people enough to put them in the hospital if they’re considered obstacles to what they want, but Doug knows how to come across as a nice guy, when he’s really not. He may not be crazy like his best friend and righthand man, Jem, but he’s a sociopath and a person of unprovoked violence just the same. The fact that he came across as such a nice, charming guy and deceived Claire by pretending to be an upstanding, law-abiding citizen, when he’s really not, is more than disgusting…it’s part of his criminal behavior. As for Claire, the fact that she took Doug’s bait and rose to it is pathetic indeed.

    If Doug had really wanted to change, imo, he would’ve turned himself and his guys in, come forward, negociated with the Feds for some protection for him and Claire, and stopped robbing banks once and for all. Doug left for Florida without Claire for two reasons:

    A) Doug macRay was an armed felon and wanted fugitive who’d been on the lam from the law for quite awhile, plus he’d just killed Fergie and Rusty.

    B) Doug had gotten what he really wanted out of Claire all along; a promise from her not to turn him in, which he got.

    How can so many people be so naive or willfully stupid as to miss that?

    Also, if Doug wanted to redeem himself, he would’ve come forward, served his time, and
    after a prison term, found honest ways to raise the funding for the renovation for the C-Town hockey rink himself, instead of using Claire Keesey as a go-between. What people don’t realize is that Doug wasn’t a nice guy…even to Claire, even though most people firmly believe that. The fact that he deceived her, seduced her and made a total fool out of her was vicious. The fact that Claire acted like a poor, confused, dumb-assed adolescent and allowed herself to be manipulated, made a fool out of and taken advantage of by Doug is pitiful, but she doesn’t deserve pity, due to the fact that she helped the very guy who turned her life upside down and caused her a ton of grief in the first place escape the law.

    Now that I think of it, I wouldn’t cared one iota if Doug and Claire had either ended up in jail, or been shot and thrown into the Charles or the Mystic River. An awful thing for me to say, but that’s how disgusted I am with this kind of thing.

    As for Kristina, well, I don’t like her sordid lifestyle or behavior (drug and alcohol addiction, sleeping around with too many men, and the fact that she was in the business herself by helping to book hotel rooms and get costumes for Doug and his men, and being a drug mule for Fergie and Rusty), but i’ll say this: I feel kind of sorry for Krista, in a way, because she had far fewer choices than Claire; she’d grown up with Doug and Jem, who, like many other men, abused and exploited her for their own ends. Krista’s daughter, Shyne, still an infant, caught in the middle of all this shit, was innocent, and I felt sorry for her, too.

    I’m so sick of people saying that what the white collar criminals (not defending them, btw) are worse than guys like Doug MacRay and his gang, because it’s unrelated, and not true.

    Neither the book Prince of Thieves, on which The Town was based, or the movie, make any effort to get at causes of bank robbery and other crimes, and the circumstances under which Doug and his men had grown up under. Moreover, the movie asks the audience to sympathize with Doug MacRay and his men, as well as Claire, who acted stupidly enough to allow Doug to take advantage of her, and who became an accessory to his crimes, while considering law enforcement officials assigned to bring criminals like MacRay and company to their knees and have them locked up in penetentiaries once and for all.

    Dez was a smart (he was college-educated and had a regular job) but stupid guy; he was pretty much just along for the ride, and did what he was told to do by the gang, and yet, at the same time, he seemed to be pretty much their victim, as well, if one gets the drift. Dez allowed himself to be taken for a ride, also.

    At least the book fleshes out the characters and spends more time on Dez and Krista, and doesn’t focus on the viewpoint of Doug and Jem so much, plus the book takes a far less sympathetic outlook towards Doug and his men.

    Sorry, folks, but I can’t bring myself to like this film, except for the very beginning.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.
    by: mplo @ Sun Jun 10, 2012 a

  13. mplo
    at 7:11 pm on July 26, 2012

    I also might add that The Town also normalizes the Stockholm Syndrome and its inverse, the Lima Syndrome. One doesn’t have to be in any of the helping professions (i. e. psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, etc.) to realize that, while a person who’s taken hostage and falls victim to the Stockholm Syndrome (i. e. falling in love with her captor) or the Lima Syndrome (i. e. accepting the overtures of her captor, who falls in love with her), presumably has a better chance of survival in a hostage situation, the victim, in either case, is turned into a person who is at her captor’s beck and call, is manipulated and controlled by him, and is essentially brainwashed into believing that her captor cares enough about her not to kill her, and that he’ll always treat her kindly and not abuse her. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, especially because, all too often, the victim is isolated from her friends and loved ones, and begins to blame law officials and other authorities for her troubles and turn against them rather than her captor who committed this criminal act against her in the first place.
    That being said, I’d say that common sense is required, in order to at least minimize the possibility of having something like that happen to him or her; Just because one meets a charming guy or gal, doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily out for any good, particularly if one is in an area that’s known to be tough, with a violent history to it. Anybody who meets someone that they’ve never seen before, no matter where they are, or how charming they may be, should be much more careful, and not be so quick to accept dates with someone or get into things with people they don’t know that well.

    Claire was a woman who used no common sense what. so. ever, and she ended up having a breakdown when it finally backfired on her. Hey…if I’d known her in real life, I’d tell her..”Hey..don’t you understand that if you play with fire, you’re going to get burned? Think about that!”

    Supposed the bank manager hadn’t been as angelic-looking as Claire, or had been someone with a learning/developmental disability such as autism, Aspergers, dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, or a seizure disorder? Do you honestly believe that Doug and his men would’ve even acted the least bit charming and sympathetic towards her? I don’t think so. Doug would’ve allowed Jem to do whatever he wanted with her, and she probably would’ve been gang-raped or “offed” by Doug and his posse of armed criminals. Don’t kid yourselves, guys!

    Doug, contrary to how he came across to Claire, wasn’t a nice guy, even to her. He was playing her, and anybody who thinks that Doug and his men wouldn’t have killed her if she’d resisted and refused to comply with them is just kidding themselves.

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