Gone Baby Gone




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Somewhere between “Mystic River” (Sean Penn) and “8MM”(Nicholas Cage) lies “Gone Baby Gone” starring Casey Affleck and directed by his brother Ben. This disturbing tale about child abduction is at times uneven in it’s story telling, but always gripping. Working and lower level class neighborhoods of Boston provide the setting for what ultimately becomes a morality play.
If anyone has ever questioned the star power of the youthful looking Affleck, this is the feature that propels him into the ranks of Christian Bales, Edward Norton and Joaquin Phoenix as a screen heavy weight. He may not be as deliberate or intense in his performance as the above named, but that just might be what distinguishes him from the pack. His laid back delivery and humble confidence makes us trust him as he navigates us through a seedy world in which we would rather not go. I found myself a little more at ease in this underworld because of his presence in the film.
Casey effectively leads a cast of seasoned veterans of the big screen as Patrick Kenzie, a Private Investigator from the same streets as the missing girl. Amy Madigan, Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman turn in excellent supporting performances, each as distraught people on the hunt for the abducted child. Again however, it is Affleck that owns the screen as he fights to make right choices in a very wrong world.
The movie works best as we follow P.I. Kenzie to the homes of family members, bar flys, pedophiles and the dens of drug dealers to question suspects connected to the case. Along with him is Angela, his partner/girlfriend. It is not always believable that Detective Kenzie would bring along the woman he loves through a gutter of dangerous characters, but that doesn’t take away from Michelle Monaghan’s strong portrayal.

Ben Affleck has done a good job with this gritty drama in his directorial debut. As I said in the beginning, sometimes the story is unevenly told. It ranges from savvy dialog in an investigation, to tough guy gun battles on the mean streets. When we get to the end of the journey however, we realize the story is really about a major moral dilemma that our main character is faced with. He makes his choice sooner than we do in the audience and we are left to ponder a very tough question between what is right and what is moral, or vice versa. I suggest you go out after with a few friends to discuss the gray area presented in the movie. The unsettling but realistic conclusion powerfully conveys that sometimes the right thing to do will not always be comfortable or rewarding. Any weaknesses in “Gone Baby Gone” seem to vanish as we ponder these things.
I give this film an 8 out of 10.
Dan Kulp is lead singer for The Dig Project

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