Gone Baby Gone

Gone Baby Gone


Reviewed by: Maryam Ghorbankarimi

Although it took Ben Affleck some time to finally step behind the camera and give directing a go, his first feature film, Gone Baby Gone, has garnished him a much higher place than his acting career ever could. His endeavour in writing is not surprising, since he has Good Will Hunting, the award winning script that he wrote with best friend Matt Damon a few years back, to his credit.

Gone Baby Gone, adapted from the novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, is the story of a young detective, Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck), and his life and work partner Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan), who become involved in the search for a four-year-old girl, Amanda McCready (Madeline O’Brien), who, left alone by her mother, has gone missing in her south Boston neighbourhood. Although on the surface the film appears to be about the heartbreaking tragedy of missing children, it digs deeper than that. As the story unfolds, it raises questions about the established sense of trust and mistrust among people in society.

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The film has a well chosen ensemble cast, including big names such as Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman, and the rising star Casey Affleck, who gives a pristine performance as a young detective with a fresh-out-of-college look who must endure people’s first impressions and try to get past their not wanting to take him seriously. However, he has the advantage of having grown up in the same neighbourhood and being familiar with all of the people, as well as the thugs. Casey Affleck gives a believable performance and, maintaining his south Boston accent, fits right in. Ed Harris, portraying the ambivalent Detective Remy Bressant, lives up to his high standards, but Morgan Freeman (as Captain Jack Doyle, who is in charge of the missing children cases in the police department) has definitely given better performances. Amy Ryan, as Helene McCready, mother of the missing Amanda, gives a consistent performance as a provocative junkie, the archetypal bad mother who cannot even be trusted with her own child.

Ben Affleck, who grew up in Boston himself, delivers a very realistic portrait of the city. The film opens with a series of documentary-like shots of people on the streets going about their daily routines. This introduction sets the tone of the film quite well, taking the audience into a world with which they may or may not be familiar. The film has a very fluid and linear tone. Although it's a mystery, it has not been flooded with action and overly complex scenarios. It allows the audience to share first impressions and make doubtful judgments, as the characters themselves tend to do throughout the film. But more than a mystery, the film is about Patrick Kenzie’s self-evolution over the course of his investigation to find little Amanda. Although the case comes to a close within the first hour of the film, it is he who continues to look for the missing pieces to shine light on the truth, and who wants to actually solve the puzzle.

Reviewed on: 18 May 2008
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A private investigator looks for a missing four-year-old.
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Read more Gone Baby Gone reviews:

The Exile ****

Director: Ben Affleck

Writer: Ben Affleck, Aaron Stockard, Dennis Lehane

Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, John Ashton, Amy Ryan, Amy Madigan, Titus Welliver, Michael K Williams, Edi Gathegi, Mark Margolis

Year: 2007

Runtime: 114 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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