PHOTOS: Click here for more red-carpet photos from the premiere
With the Rays and Yankees slugging it out for the AL East and the Red Sox falling more and more distant in their rearview, Fenway Park has not been the hot spot it normally is as Fall descends on Boston, but yesterday was another matter; in the afternoon, over 5,000 immigrants were sworn in as US citizens; and last night, Fenway hosted the Boston film premiere of The Town, the highly anticipated crime thriller directed by native son Ben Affleck.
A 1,500-plus crowd -- area VIPs, lucky ticket winners, and all those locals who worked as part of the crew or had bit parts -- filled a sectioned-off sliver of the third-base stands before a towering screen erected on the warning track.
If the notion of a red-carpet event at Fenway sounds odd, it was. Despite all the glitz and glam, there was an undeniable old-school aura in the air. Attendees in suits and evening gowns didn’t sip on champagne or nosh on hors d' oeuvres. No, it was your basic Fenway fare: nuts, beer and popcorn -- all free, mind you. A poetic, if not apt, echo of the way in which Affleck’s film taps into the gritty, working-class side of the city.
Few films have hit the screen with this much Boston street cred. Peter Yates’s The Friends of Eddie Coyle is still the brass ring, but The Town is a close second, with Mystic River and Affleck directorial debut Gone Baby Gone as honorable mentions. If you’ve never been to a red-carpet movie premiere, there’s not much to know. You’re seeing a movie with all the stars in attendance. And they were all there: Mad Men's Jon Hamm, who plays a determined FBI agent out to get Affleck and his band of robbers; love interest Rebecca Hall; Chris Cooper as as Affleck’s Walpole-incarcerated dad; local rapper/actor Slaine; and Jeremy Renner, who plays Affleck’s volatile second in command. He was rightly honored last year with an Academy Award nomination (and was also the Boston of Society of Film Critics’ choice for Best Actor) for his role of a troubled military bomb tech in The Hurt Locker, and could be find himself going down the same path again.
PODCAST + VIDEO: Jeremy Renner talks about The Town, his nun-costume rampage, and "townie haircuts" at the BSFC Awards
Before the film started, Affleck addressed the crowd, humbly citing all the help he received, the good people of Charlestown, and the Jimmy Fund. Pretty pat stuff, but there was nothing pat about the movie, which featured an alley-banging car chase through the North End. The highlight of the film for this crowd, however, was the pan-over shot of Fenway, where the film’s tense climax takes place. There was a sense of validation and place, and never before has a film so fully taken advantage of the soul and the history of the church on Yawkey Way. Sorry, Fever Pitch.
READ: Complete Phoenix coverage of The Town