Gone Baby Gone (2007)

DVD Cover (Miramax)
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Overall Rating 72%
Overall Rating
Ranked #529
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When 4 year old Amanda McCready disappears from her home and the police make little headway in solving the case, the girl's aunt Beatrice McCready hires two private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. The detectives freely admit that they have little experience with this type of case, but the family wants them for two reasons - they're not cops and they know the tough Boston neighborhood in which they all live. As the case progresses, Kenzie and Gennaro face drug dealers, gangs and pedophiles. When they are about to solve their case, they are faced with a moral dilemma that could tear them apart. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: October 23, 2007
Sitting in the theatre earlier today, I was surrounded by senior citizens and a surprising amount of young, college-age people, all there to see the same film as me - "Gone Baby Gone". Some of them had not done their homework and when the title "Directed By Ben Affleck" came across the screen, I heard some sounds of displeasure and one elderly woman say, "He's not a director". The film had not even started and already audience members were bemoaning the fact that the film they were about to watch was directed by the same guy who made "Gigli" and "Forces of Nature". These are also probably people who missed Affleck's career-defining performance in "Hollywoodland" from last year. Had they saw that film, they might have had a little more hope. The truth is that Ben Affleck's career has been hit, and most often, miss. Unlike his friend Matt Damon, Affleck pretty much takes any script tossed his way, and so many of them have been utter garbage. "Hollywoodland" came along and helped resurrect his career, but he followed that up with turns in disappointing flicks like "Smokin' Aces" and "Man About Town". So, when it was announced that Affleck was taking Dennis Lehane's novel to the big screen, I was skeptical. Early reviews started pouring in and they were too good to be true, so I was still skeptical. After sitting through two hours of Affleck's directorial debut, "Gone Baby Gone", I can say that Affleck might want to re-think his career path and stick, primarily, behind the camera. This film was fan-friggin-tastic.

The film stars Ben's brother Casey Affleck as Patrick Kenzie. He and his girlfriend Angie (Michelle Monaghan) are brought in by a grieving aunt (Amy Madigan) to track down a missing child, who was taken from her room while her mother (Amy Ryan) was out doing coke at a bar. Patrick does his investigations with the cooperation of the Boston Police Department, the missing persons division headed by Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman), whose 12-year-old daughter was murdered years before, thrusting him into the limelight as a child advocate. Ed Harris and John Ashston co-star as Detectives Remy Bressant and Nick Poole, two of Boston's finest who are assigned to spearhead the investigation into the little girl's disappearance. Patrick and the Boston P.D. have various ideas as to what might have happened to the little girl, and "Gone Baby Gone" explores how their cooperate during the investigation and tackles even weightier issues like - just what is best for a child? Just how wrong does something have to be to really make it wrong? Just when they think they've solved the case, something happens that forces things back into perspective and the film then takes on another tone. I would compare the film to "Million Dollar Baby" somewhat in the way in shifts towards the end in a way that most won't suspect. A question of 'the right thing to do' is brought into play and affects just about every single character in the film. Some might find the end unsatisfying, but I think it kind of leaves things at a nice and realistic level.

What Affleck possesses is an eye for the city of his birth. "Gone Baby Gone" is all Boston all the time, and as he demonstrated in "Good Will Hunting", Affleck knows how to write for his people and he certainly knows how to direct them. Most of the extras you see in the film and real Boston citizens that Affleck used to make the film seem all the more realistic. It works. Scenes in the local bars sizzle with energy through those performances. Affleck also has an interesting visual style and really knows how to just let his actors do their thing. His shots are simple and his performances strong. He is far more worried about his story and his message. "Gone Baby Gone" seems like a film from a veteran filmmaker - something you might expect from Clint Eastwood. And you also have to wonder how much of the film's success is owed to Affleck probably thinking this film was his last chance to prove himself? I think he was fully aware that this film flopping would be the final nail in his career's coffin. If that played some part, I'm glad it did, because "Gone Baby Gone" might be one of the best films of the year. It just seemed authentic. The writing is crisp and clear and is brimming with intensity and flair. The characters are well developed and sympathetic and you don't really know who the villain is because everyone was doing what they thought was right. At the end, you might even dislike the guy who has been made out to be the moral hero.

As for casting his younger brother in the lead role, it was a fine stroke. With this film and "The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford", Casey Affleck is proving himself to be quite the cinematic force in 2007. Here, he plays everything small and realistic. He does far more than you'd think he does, on first glance. And with an all-star cast like this, he really manages to hold his own in some of the more intense sequences. Morgan Freeman hasn't been this nuanced and finely tuned in a while, since "Million Dollar Baby". He owns the screen when he's there and you can see so much emotion expressed in his eyes and his face, especially towards the end. Ed Harris is also ripe with excitement and energy in a role that he creates and dominates. Harris has one scene where he explaining to Affleck what he thinks about violence against children that really does give you goosebumps. Amy Madigan has a nice couple of scenes, and it's always nice to see her acting in quality motion pictures. A real surprise was how affective Amy Ryan was as the mother of the missing girl, who might be the closest thing to a villain that we get. Her scenes are infuriating as much as they are a joy to watch. I don't recall seeing her much in the film world, but I will most certainly be keeping an eye out for her. She hits all the right notes, and she does so often. "Gone Baby Gone" doesn't live and die by its performances, but they certainly help to elevate it.

This was just such a pleasant surprise. I am thrilled for Ben Affleck. He is one of those actors I just can't help but root for, and I am so glad he is as fine a director and he turned out to be. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next. There are so many actors nowadays who have been trying their hands at directing. George Clooney has been one of the most successful. Eastwood and Redford have been doing it for years. Affleck is directing at an experience level equal to many of them and if he keeps crafting quality films like "Gone Baby Gone", he might be remembered more for his directing than his acting, and it doesn't seem like he would have a problem with that. And, though I don't see this happened, I think Morgan Freeman is far more deserving of a Best Supporting Actor nomination here than he was for "Million Dollar Baby". I also think Ed Harris is deserving for the same category. It won't happen, but it would make me happy if it did. "Gone Baby Gone" is now playing in theatres everywhere and I encourage everyone to check it out. It poses some very new and interesting questions about the treatment of children. It makes for great discussion.

Tristan #1: Tristan - added 12/10/2008, 01:50 PM
Really enjoyed this one. After watched The Assassination of Jesse James, I was hoping Affleck would pull off another great performance. Glad to say he did just that. Great film.

blarc #2: blarc - added 02/02/2012, 02:42 PM
MAN. I hated this movie and that is a good thing. It was such a gut wrenching thing to watch unfold. The acting was fantastic. they are so many times you say, " i cant watch this. I have to turn this off." It punches you right in stomach. Sad to believe there is such white trash out there like that.
Oh, and it makes you have Boston/ Jersey even more then normal.
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