‘Too soon! Too soon!’
That’s the most common gripe about this anticipated film project, “Boston Strong.” The tragedy is barely three months old. Who needs a movie already? This sentiment is best crystallized by the Onion’s gag headline: “New movie to bring story of Boston Marathon bombing to life, so that people of today can experience it.” Very funny.
Another line of attack is that it’s just one more example of how crass and tasteless the film industry can be. There’s apparently no tragedy too large or small that Hollywood can’t find a way to cash in on. Show some respect, why dontcha?
My problem with this outrage is three-fold.
1) It’s not really going to be that soon.
Sure, the bombings were just this past spring but the movie is going to be based on a book and that book hasn’t even been written yet. The book won’t be published until after the next Boston Marathon, since its focus will be on the entire year between the bombings and the anniversary Patriots Day in 2014.
A screenplay obviously would have to be hashed out after that, to say nothing of the negotiations that would have to take place with a director, the actors, and the rest of the film crew. So the chance to actually see this film in a theater is at least of couple of years away.
2) This is not a “let’s-make-a-quick-buck” operation.
We’re not talking about the Lifetime Channel. These are serious journalists working on the book (one’s from the Boston Herald) and serious screenwriters signed on for the screenplay. Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy earned Oscar nominations for Mark Wahlberg’s “The Fighter,” a real-life story about a Massachusetts boxer with a crazy, close-knit family.
With their demonstrated feel for Massachusetts and boxing and weird family dynamics, these screenwriters seem perfectly positioned to handle the Boston Marathon story.
And the film’s producer – who also produced “The Fighter” – is herself a resident of Watertown and took part in her town’s lockdown that eventually led to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s arrest.
This does not feel like a cheap stunt in the making.
3) To those who insist that no matter who’s behind the film, the subject matter should be out of bounds for Hollywood, I say – never underestimate the power of art.
Similar objections were made about the 9/11 movie, “United 93.” Did we really need to relive the terror on board that hijacked plane? Well, as it turns out, we did.
That movie brilliantly gave us a moment-by-moment account from all sorts of perspectives – of the passengers, of the terrorists, of the air traffic controllers.
By underplaying rather than exaggerating the action, this film turns out to be a more heroic tribute to those on board United 93 than all the 9/11 speeches given in their honor.
I’m not saying “Boston Strong” will be that good, but I am saying I’m willing to give it a chance.