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The early parts of this were filmed in Lawrence, Ma., my hometown. Particularly the bank robbery scene. I had jury duty 2 weeks before they filmed it, and I hung out with the bums and the derelicts in that area for over a week. The scenes along the park, that's where I used to sit and read on break from the trial.
I also had read the Dennis Lehane book. But the film was extremely disappointing. The acting is wooden and the dialog as written is cheesy. It's pretty much like what one of us amateurs would do with a gangster movie...we would try to make it sound cool and it would sound like some poor knock off. There are a few good lines, but for the most part it's awful.
And the story, altered from the book, makes no sense now. Affleck's character is a small time robber who avoids becoming attached to any larger gang. He ends up in jail after the botched bank robbery. When he gets out 3 years later, he convinces the Italain boss of Boston to give him, an unknown Irishman, control over the Florida rackets. So he goes down there a boss. It makes absolutely no sense. In the book, Affleck;'s character meets the Italian boss in jail and saves his life. The man becomes a kind of father figure. THAT's why he sets him up with the gig down south.
The whole plot is like that, loosely and implausibly connected.
If you waste your money on this, think of me in the bank robbery scene. At the end of this scene, they end up in an abandoned parking lot where there is a shoot out. I had walked that lot a couple weeks before and texted Dena from there, telling her it would be a great place for a movie scene. I had no idea there was about to be a movie shot there!
It's interesting too to see the adaptation process. The book and the film have he same opening scene, but from there it changes. I can understand why they changed it too, but the change did not work.
In the book, Billy Coughlin is a very low level criminal. He works as a team with 2 Italian guys, and their crew works for an Irish gang boss. It was the boss who had them raid this card game, not telling them that the game belonged to a rival Irish boss. While on the job robbing the game, Billy falls in love with one of the gals serving drinks to the fellas there.
Now, in the book, the narrator begins from a point in the future where he has just had his feet put in cement and he's about to be dropped overboard in Florida by gangsters. So his last thoughts(unless he gets out of it somehow) are our story. He tells us that things went wrong when they robbed that card game and he fell in love with the street hard but sexy Irish girl there.
As his story continues, after the job he can't help tracking down the girl, who he finds out is the gang boss's moll. So it's a stupid risk, but he's obsessed, and soon they are running around behind the boss's back.
So he knows he needs to get enough money so they can escape. He takes his crew on a bank heist, hoping he loot will allow him and the girl to take off. But the job goes bad and 3 cops die. He gets away, for now, but the gal betrays him to the boss, and he's about to be killed, when the cops nab him instead. So now he starts a jail term for robbing the bank.
While in jail, he meets the Italian boss who is serving time there. Eventually a father/son relationship develops when Billy saves the old man's life in jail. So when Billy finally gets out(the old man gets out first, and resumes his role as boss), the Italian boss sends the Irish kid down to Florida with the authority to run things down there.
What about the gal? The cops had chased her back around the time of the betrayal and her car went off the bridge. She is assumed dead.
So what did the film change and why?
Well, the book tells us it was the gal that was the reason he made the mistakes he did. But then when the gal is presumed dead, she disappears from the story until the very end. Well, in a film, this changes things. If it's about Billy and the gal, we can't have the gal disappear for 2/3 of the story. So Affleck changes it up to it's about living the wrong way and having your sins catch up to you. It becomes about Billy falling unwittingly into the gangster life. In this version, we get this intro about Billy being a WWI veteran, which is supposed to explain why he doesn't want a regular job. And in the film, he doesn't begin working for a gangster. There are 2 bosses in the film, and Irish one and an Italian. He works for neither. Only when he gets out of jail does he ask the Italian boss for work, and is sent to Florida.
But they decided to scrap the jail stuff in the film. You have to sacrifice things in adaptation. But this created a big problem. BEcause in the film, it makes no sense now when the Italian boss gives him so much power down in Florida. I mean why would an Italian boss give some Irish thug just out of jail so much power? Billy had never run anything but his small crew of 3, and he had never been down south. It makes no sense at all.
Adaptions are not easy. When you cut things out, you can end up with a story that makes no sense.
i saw this book at the library the other day in the Hot Reads section (where you only have a single week to read a book, no renewals) i was tempted by the back cover info but I'm currently in book 2 of the GOT books so passed for now.
Then I saw the trailer for the film but didn't make the connect until your post big fella. And it seems like a huge pity they completely buggered up the adaption. Will they ever learn?
It's hard to do an adaptation(recent experience on this).
In the book, it starts out much as a love story. Then the gal seemingly dies. So she disappears until the end.
But in a movie, how can you have a love story where the girls disappears for 2/3 of the story?
I think this is one of those instances where trying to have theme actually took them off the rails. So in the movie, they came up with this theme: the hero fought in WWI, saw his friends die. The lesson he learned was that to be free you have to live for yourself, because you only get one shot at life. So he avoids any relationships or working for any boss. By the end of the film, he has learned that this is an empty life. He says "I don't want to be free". In other words, he wants family to be the focus of his life.
That's all nice, but once they dumped the love angle, the story should have been about his rise from nothing to becoming a gang boss himself down in Florida. That's the meat of the story. But they way they did it, his rise just feels disjointed and illogical.
Am reading the book now, big fella ( I gave up on Game of Thrones 160 pages into the last book!). Loving this book and can't believe how Affleck buggered up the film by omitting the prison scene - which is where I'm up to. Brain dead actors...
Yeah, I'm with ya Stevie. That was a mistake. They way they did it in the movie didn't make sense. He gets out of jail, a small time hood with no reputation, and the Italians just hand him the keys to the Southern empire?