If they handed out awards for actors who get the most out of mere minutes of screentime in a feature film, the late Pete Postlethwaite would be an easy contender — for, if nothing else, the florist scene in the 2010 Ben Affleck crime thriller The Town.
This Boston-set feature film, with a cast that also includes Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, and Blake Lively, is one of the most-watched movies in the US on Netflix at the moment. That’s according to the streamer’s ongoing Top 10 movies list, which currently has The Town at #5. Whatever the reason why people are bingeing it pretty heavily right now, though, Postlethwaite’s all-too-brief inclusion in the movie is one of the most memorable things about it, for me. And you can check out his incredible scene in the clip below (it won’t ruin anything about the movie, by the way, if you haven’t seen it yet).
The Town Netflix
In the movie, Postlethwaite plays Fergus “Fergie” Colm — a local mob boss with the most sinister Irish accent you’ve ever heard in your life. The scene I’m talking about features Postlethwaite squeezing every drop of malice he can out of his lines, which he delivers while casually trimming roses in his flower shop that’s also a front for his assorted criminal misdeeds.
Affleck plays bank robber Doug MacRay, who comes by the shop to tell Colm he’s not working for him anymore. He’s out.
The big meathead by the door keeps his arms crossed, eyeing Affleck’s MacRay warily. Not only does Colm refuse to take “no” for an answer. He sneers at MacRay in return: “You’re going to do this for me, or I’m going to clip your nuts, like I clipped your daddy’s.”
He continues by letting loose a torrent of invective and malice aimed at MacRay, in a devastating monologue that manages to insult both of MacRay’s dead parents. While also making clear that MacRay has obligations he can’t get out of, and oh yeah, I know where your girlfriend lives, too. It’s a killer scene.
Reviews and reaction
That scene is all the more impressive, at least to me, since as I understand it Postlethwaite was pretty sick at the time. And this was the last movie he was in before his death. Next-level work, till the very end.
The rest of the movie is pretty great, too. The robberies are gripping to watch, the gunfights are messy and chaotic, and I found my attention never wandering pretty much throughout the whole thing. I love heist movies almost as much as I do anything related to espionage. It’s a format that dictates very specific parameters, which forces you to get creative as an artist and bring your writing and filmmaking A-game in order to not produce something run-of-the-mill.
Over at Rotten Tomatoes, The Town currently has a pretty impressive 92% critics’ score. That’s based on 235 reviews, like this one from a critic for the British newspaper The Spectator: “So this isn’t fresh, exactly, but it is tense and exciting and well-performed and you do end up caring about the people you’ve been manipulated into caring about. I ask you: What more could you want from a trip to the cinema?”
As for audiences, meanwhile, The Town has an 85 percent Rotten Tomatoes audience score. While that’s slightly below the critics’ score, it’s arguably more impressive — because it’s derived from more than 100,000 user ratings.