‘Gone Baby Gone’ *** Movie Review 102407

The work = ***
‘Gone Baby Gone’ is being praised almost universally by critics who also acknowledge its director Ben Affleck. Yep, that’s right, actor Ben Affleck helmed ‘Gone Baby Gone’ and why not? People forget, the guy won an Oscar for screenwriting. He is a better actor than he will likely get credit for too. If you don’t believe me check out 'Hollywoodland’. His performance outshines the film and is the reason to give that movie a try. Here, with ‘Gone Baby Gone’ he has crafted a slow moving drama that, for me, was not as strong as many other critics seem to think. I can recommend it for those in the mood for a slow, downer of a crime drama, otherwise you may want to wait for a rental.

‘Gone Baby Gone’ follows a private detective Patrick Kenzie (Ben’s brother Casey Affleck) who has been hired by the family of a little girl, Amanda McCready (Madeline O’Brien,) who has gone missing. Kenzie doesn’t normally work cases like the McCready’s but he has sympathy for the family and is ready to get involved. Kenzie’s girlfriend/ working partner Angie Gennaro (Michelle Mognahan) is not as convinced and from the get go does not like the idea. (For some reason the character of Angie didn’t  help my enjoyment either and really seemed to exist only to disagree with Kenzie.) The local Boston Chief of Police, Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) doesn’t like the idea either, although he does cooperate and sets up a meeting between Kenzie and Doyle’s two senior officers on the case, Detective Bressant (Ed Harris) and Detective Poole (John Ashton).

What Kenzie has that the Detectives don’t is a local-boy face, seen around the neighborhood. Maybe he is not a celebrity but he can at least talk to people and have them know he went to one of the same high schools they did. Ben Affleck shoots all of ‘Gone Baby Gone’ in and around Boston. Not enough films are shot there and he fills the screen with many locals. Both Affleck brothers are from the area and no doubt like that the novel the film was based on was set there. One odd note about Caset Affleck is that his accent seemed to go in and out a bit which is surprising given where he is from.

The film is very slow and largely follows Kenzie’s trek for information on exactly what happened to young Amanda. I will avoid spoilers but I will say that the journey gets increasingly grim, not just in what may have happened to Amanda but the way the investigation takes shape. Characters in ‘Gone Baby Gone’ often enter into situations that may make sense to those involved but are also amoral. The blurring of morality is almost a sickness infecting the characters that inhabit the streets of Boston in the world of ‘Gone Baby Gone’.

After the film I had a feeling of being somewhat under whelmed. I thought the movie was ok and could really only recommend it to crime drama completionists. However, in thinking back on ‘Gone Baby Gone’ elements of the film stayed with me. The blurring of morality and sections of the story are what redeem the film in my mind. It is slow but if you are sucked into the story and the characters of ‘Gone Baby Gone’ they may pull you through. If not, you may find, as I did, that parts of ‘Gone Baby Gone’ stick with you long after the movie is over. Ben Affleck deserves credit for creating a film that seems to stay true to its story even at the expense of entertainment value. Recommend for those who might dig a dark, slow, crime drama.


‘Gone Baby Gone ’ Links:


My review of 'Hollywoodland'

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