More on the movie, “The Town”–No Sympathy for Doug or Claire:

(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Please note:  this post was cross-posted from

Lately, I’ve had both Claire, the bank manager, whose bank was robbed, and Doug MacRay, a lifelong Charlestown resident who was the leader of the four-man Townie gang who’d robbed Claire’s bank, wearing Hallowe’en masks and ninja outfits, forced her to open the safe at gunpoint, and then took her as a hostage by driving her to a beach in Boston after blindfolding her to  make sure she didn’t see anything, and then forcing her to walk on the beach until she felt the water on her toes, on my mind a great deal, for some reason.    They let her go, physically unharmed, although rather traumatized by the whole incident, which included “Jem’s” near-fatal beating of Claire’s assistant manager, and Claire ends up quitting her job as the bank manager, as a result.  

Ironically, one is supposed to root for Doug MacRay for ultimately having outwitted the FBI and gotten away, at least in part due to being tipped off by Claire, but, unlike many people, I have not been able to do that.  Doug is clearly not the nice guy that he comes across as, even though he came from a dysfunctional family (his mother ran off when he was about six years old and, ten years later, when Doug was a teen, his father was sent to prison to serve a lifetime sentence for bank robbery and murder) and grew up in a rough and tough neighborhood.  He’d had a chance, as a young man,  at around 20, to turn his life around, by being a professional Hockey Player for the Bruins, and not end up like his father, but, due to his own arrogance, nastiness, cocky behavior, and fooling around with drugs and alcohol during his early twenties, he totally blew that chance, and went into the bank-robbing business, like his father.   At one point, he’d also gotten into a nasty fight with another guy on his own hockey team, thus getting him kicked out of the Bruins for good.  

Not long after Doug and his crew rob Claire’s bank at gunpoint, beat up and permanently injure her assistant manager, and then take Claire, a yuppie who resides in Charlestown,  as a hostage,  the crew is unnerved by the fact that Claire lives in Charlestown, just afew blocks from Gloansy, one of Doug’s men, and become worried that she might blow their cover by talking to the Feds.  To make sure that Claire doesn’t do that, and not trusting his more unstable friend, “Jem” Coughlin, to not wreak lots of havoc,  Doug decides to take charge  of the situation and trail Claire himself, to find out what she knows.  Doug has been following Claire around for several weeks, trailing her and watching her from a distance prior to him and his men robbing her bank.   He finally follows Claire into a Charlestown laundromat one day, and, after watching her for afew minutes,  sits down and pretends to read the newspaper.  Claire approaches Doug for some change for the dryers, but Doug brusquely turns her down.

Meanwhile, Claire breaks down and cries at the memory of the robbery of her bank and the beating of her assistant manager, while folding her laundry,  and she has no idea who Doug is. Using all his charm, charisma, calmness and collectedness, Doug comforts Claire with some wry humor, then asks her out for a drink.   Claire coyishly flirts back and accepts Doug’s invitation (which, imho, is a huge mistake, given the fact that Doug’s a perfect stranger, there are some sinister undercurrents in Doug’s approach to Claire, and the looks he gives her are rather creepy, plus she’s just been traumatized by the robbery and ends up quitting her job, as we shall see.), and they discover that they really like each other.  

I admittedly sympathized with Claire at first, because of what happened to her, and the fact that she was so traumatized by the whole experience that she ended up quitting her job as a bank manager.  However, as the film went on, I found Claire more and more annoying, and I ultimately lost all sympathy for her well before the end of the film.  Equally importantly, Claire, to me, seems like a complete phony, who’s as coy as hell,  always playing “the babe”, friendly, sunny, serene, calm, “normal”,  interesting and interested, and always with a fake smile pasted on her face.  Hey!  If I were a guy, I’d keep my distance from Claire, just because she’s such a phony, and she was stupid enough to fall for a guy who’s turned out to be a career criminal, an armed felon, and a wanted fugitive.  Scratch that surface of Claire’s congeniality, and I’d be the first to bet that Claire’s either a total bitch under that friendly, charming veneer, or a very lonely woman who’s so desperate to snag a guy that she’ll fall for pretty much any guy who crosses her path, including Doug MacRay, who’s an unrepentant criminal that doesn’t even bother to apologize for what he’s done.  

Although Doug comforts Claire in the bank during the robbery, telling her to take her time, breathe and keep calm while she opens the safe, Doug is not the decent guy with a conscience that he appears to be.  He is, in fact, a sociopath, with no conscience, who charmingly exploits Claire during her most vulnerable moments, and he gets her into a romantic relationship in order to set a trap for her and get one thing from her;  a promise that she will not talk to the Feds, which Doug pretty much gets,  by very subtly warning her not to talk to the Feds, or else!    One very telling incident in the movie The Town is when Doug and Claire have lunch together one afternoon in a Boston Pizzeria, and Jem pays Doug an unannounced visit while Claire is in the ladies’ room.  Claire is clearly surprised by “Jem’s” presence, but says nothing, but Doug puts his hand over Jem’s “Fighting Irish” tattoo, which is on the back of his neck, to make sure that Claire doesn’t identify it and blow the robbers’ cover by talking to the Feds.  Obviously angered that Doug is with Claire, one can see “Jem’s seething anger in his eyes, yet he refrains from saying anything.  

When Claire is interviewed by the FBI, after giving them a preliminary statement, she doesn’t tell the FBI that she’d noticed the “fighting Irish” tattoo on the back of “Jem’s” neck in the bank.  At first, the FBI doesn’t regard Claire as a suspect, much less an accomplice, but, as time goes on and Claire also fabricates a story about dating a Townie piano mover, something doesn’t add up, and the FBI suspects that Claire knows more about what happened during the robbery at her bank than she’s letting on.  FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley, who specializes in bank robbery cases, is even more suspicious when they learn of Doug and Claire’s relationship via a recorded telephone conversation between them, thus catching them redhanded…together.  It’s clear then that Claire is an accessory and definitely needs a lawyer.  Certain things become more and more obvious;  Claire, who’s allowed herself to be lured into a trap by Doug, who’s being hunted down by the Feds for his crimes, and who refuses to write him out of her life even after learning the truth about who Doug MacRay really is, has become an accessory, if not an accomplice to Doug’s crimes after the fact, and she, too, is under a lot of heat, due to being watched by the FBI.  Claire has put herself in this situation and in the line of fire, she could easily be killed, and she’s become her own worst enemy as a consequence.   When her romantic relationship with Doug turns bad around the edges and comes around to bite her in the ass, Claire has a complete breakdown, and often ends up crying a lot.   What’s equally stupid of Claire, however, is the fact that she refuses to keep away from him, even after he’s lied to and deceived her for so long.  Doug plans two more heists, one in Boston’s North End, and the other in Boston’s Fenway Park.  Both of these latter heists go terribly  wrong.  A guard in the North End is shot by one of Doug’s men and barely survives, and, during the Fenway Park heist, three of Doug’s men are shot and killed by the FBI and the cops, leaving Doug to fend for himself.  

Krista Coughlin, the sister of the unstable, hot-tempered Jem, has ratted out Doug and his men, alerting the FBI to when the next heist will be and where it’ll take place, partly in retaliation for Doug’s having dumped her for Claire, and partly because Krista’s worried that her 14-month old daughter, Shyne, will be taken away for good if she fails to cooperate with the Feds, which she ultimately does.  

At one point, Claire  is instructed by the FBI to have Doug come to her Charlestown condo to see her.   The FBI is in Claire’s apartment, and Doug is on his way there, to supposedly pick up Claire, who he has asked to wait for him so they can elope to Florida together.  Just then, one of the FBI agents in Claire’s apartment cocks his loaded gun.  Doug, who is watching Claire from across the street from his uncle Thomas MacRay’s apartment, is aware that the Feds are in Claire’s apartment, and both he and Claire notice and hear one cop cock his gun.  That’s a rather stupid mistake by the cop, because it provides the perfect opportunity for Claire to abet Doug by giving him the “This will be like one of my sunny days” code for him not to come to her apartment, during their last  telephone conversation together.  (The ‘Sunny days” code is what Claire made up, because her younger brother died in a hospital one sunny day, so sunny days always remind Claire of death).  So, inotherwords, Claire warns Doug away, by giving him the “sunny days” code over her phone, warning him to stay away, because coming to her apartment could mean his death with the FBI present.  This is yet another reason why I  really don’t like or sympathize with Claire.  She was sympathetic with Doug and tipped  him off to the FBI’S presence in her apartment, thus obstructing justice and allowing Doug, an armed felon and wanted fugitive, to evade the law and to supposedly go a free man.  Yet, when Frawley mentions to Claire that the FBI is a national organization, and demands that MacRay’s picture be put in national circulation, it’s clear that Doug’ll eventually be found and forced to serve justice ( in a long prison sentence),

Doug discovers that he wants to leave his old Boston neighborhood behind, and to elope with Claire to Tangerine, FL, where he believes his mother resides.  However, plans for Claire and Doug to elope together will not pan out, and Doug ends up going to Florida by himself, and leaving a duffel bag full of stolen, dirty and blood-stained money for Claire, in her community garden,  with a tangerine, and  the following letter:

“Claire:  Take this.  You can use it better than I can.  Not the way I planned it, but, for the first time, I’m leaving this city.  Maybe if I go, I can stop looking.  No matter how much you change, you still have to pay the price for the things you’ve done.  I have a long road.  But I know I’ll see you again, this side or the other.”

When Doug goes down to Florida, he hopes to find his mother and hopefully get things resolved, and therefore get at least a modicum of peace in a new place.  But does that really happen, or are Doug’s problems and mistakes and criminal exploits destined to follow him for the rest of his days?  I think that’s the latter.  He never finds his mother, since he learns from Fergie the Town Florist, and Rusty, his bodyguard that he kills, that his mother committed suicide as a result of her addiction to drugs.  When Fergie threatens to harm or kill Claire, Doug goes to do his last heist, but warns Fergie and Rusty that he’d come back and kill both of them in his own shop if Claire comes to any harm, or might be harmed, which he ends up doing, at least in part in revenge for their threats to harm Claire, and in part,  to avenge his mother’s death by drugs and suicide, at the hands of “Fergie” and Rusty.  Imho, Doug had no business killing Rusty and Fergie.  A life-long prison term with no parole for both of them would’ve been suffice.  

Despite the fact that “Fergie the Florist and Rusty, his bodyguard, are gunned down by Doug, it’s permanently on Doug’s record and he could well be charged with first-degree murder, if he ever gets caught by the FBI.    One thing that’s obvious is  Doug and Claire have so much heat on them, that he cannot possibly take Claire down to Florida with him.  The end of the movie has Doug, now with a full beard, standing on the porch of a boathouse overlooking a bayou down in Florida, contemplating his past sins, which he’ll never, ever be able to fully make up for.  Nor will Doug and Claire ever meet and get together again.  The phrase

“I’ll see you again, this side or the other”

, both in the letter to Claire, and when Doug visits his father in prison, and his father says that to him at the end of Doug’s visit,  clearly indicates that.  

So, even though The Town is only fiction, parts of it do seem real, but parts of it don’t.  Regardless of what anybody may say or think, Claire did commit a couple of crimes:  obstructing justice and helping Doug MacRay, a career criminal, an armed felon and wanted fugitive, elude the law, and receiving stolen goods.  When Doug left Claire a duffel bag full of “dirty” money, she spend it all on the renovation of a seedy Charlestown ice-hockey rink, which she dedicated to her criminal boyfriend’s mother, who she never knew or met.  Imho, she should’ve called the police, turned that stolen, blood-stained money in, and found more honest ways to get funding for the renovation of the ice-hockey rink.


    • mplo on April 15, 2011 at 17:08

Comments have been disabled.