An open letter to Ben Affleck

September 20, 2010 09:08:27 Posted at September 20, 2010 09:08:27
Lainey Posted by Lainey

Written by Sarah

Dear Ben Affleck:

I know that it has not always been easy between us. I have often been critical and harsh toward you and your movies. I realize that the time I called you “Matt Damon’s biggest mole” was probably hurtful to you, and I apologize for that. I hope we can move on and direct our filmmaker/film watcher relationship in a more positive direction. Because I quite like Filmmaker Ben Affleck, much more than I ever liked Actor Ben Affleck.

I saw your new movie The Town this weekend and I enjoyed it immensely. After Gone Baby Gone I thought you might have a real knack for directing and you do. While The Town wasn’t as emotionally complex as Gone Baby Gone, it was much less restrained and showed you’re getting comfortable with your ability behind the camera. Your use of devices like moments of silence, integrated security camera footage and 360-degree pans could have been gimmicky, but you used them with such a light touch in all the right places that it gave some visual interest and depth to The Town. Good on you.

You’re also displaying a talent for casting. I appreciate the opportunity to enjoy Jon Hamm on the big screen, and you can’t go wrong with guys like Chris Cooper, Pete Postlethwaite and Jeremy Renner. Renner’s live-wire “Jim Coughlin” was a nearly electric force every time he was on screen. And Rebecca Hall was great as “Claire”, whose pockets of vulnerability really made me care about her, even if she was aiding and abetting a criminal. But really, it was your decision to cast Blake Lively that surprised and rewarded the most. Lively says she “begged and pleaded” for the role, and while I generally don’t support the hiring of these Gossip Girl twats, I admit Lively did a good job as Townie skank “Krista”. She had the worst dialogue in the movie and she sold it.

Speaking of dialogue—the monologues were great. As with Good Will Hunting, the characters each got a sparkling monologue to deliver. They also got some clunky lines here and there, but I am willing to accept that you may have done more than replenish the paper in the printer while writing Good Will Hunting with Damon. However, and I know it’s not entirely on you since you adapted Chuck Hogan’s novel, the robbery of Fenway Park was a bit…much. You staged and filmed it in such a way that made Fenway a fantastic frame for the shootout, but the whole idea was kind of ludicrous. Just FYI.

As for your acting, long the target of my ridicule and scorn, you reminded me here that you can actually act. I still think you’re better off in character roles, as your ability to carry a two-hour movie hasn’t always been the strongest, but you wrote “Dougy Macray” to your strengths and you showed up well against your costars. The moment when “Dougy” realizes he’s going to have to kill people to make sure “Claire” will be safe gave me chills. I could see the natural criminal in “Dougy” come to the fore. Very effective.

In parting, Ben, I think you should stick with this directing thing. You’re really a lot better at it than acting, even though you are getting back to your skills as an actor. If you could combine the emotional complexity of Gone Baby Gone with the more stylish, and frankly fun, The Town, you’ll be on to something special. As long as you can avoid over-casting yourself in your movies (Clint Eastwood doesn’t often star in his own films, either) and also not casting your boring wife (because she’s so boring), I think you can have a long and fruitful career behind the camera. I will certainly be rooting for Filmmaker Ben Affleck.



PS: I’m still waiting for my $10 refund for Reindeer Games.

Here’s Ben with some swagger this morning in London celebrating his big box office win this weekend while promoting The Town overseas.

Written by Sarah
Photos from

Previous Article Next Article