Gone Baby Gone Review
This Almost makes up for Forces of Nature and Bounce
Gone Baby Gone is one of those films where you have to wonder about its journey to the screen. It’s easy to understand the studios wanting to green light another project based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, the author behind the critical hit Mystic River. The directing of the film by Ben Affleck is not as easy to explain or understand. The former A-List actor has never directed before, or done anything in his performances to make you think he is capable of handling a project demanding of such a skillful and mature hand. However, Affleck has won an Oscar for writing and co-wrote the adaptation of Gone Baby Gone. I suppose the people involved in producing the film weighed the ability Affleck showed as a writer with Good Will Hunting against the lack of talent Affleck has shown in his film performances and decided to take the risk.
Gone Baby Gone is a carefully crafted noir set in Beantown that is enhanced by the intelligent decisions made by the director. The actors playing most of the secondary characters in the film look and talk exactly like the people that would live in the film’s neighborhood; this casting greatly enhances the film’s realism and helps the audience accept some of the secondary character’s quirky behaviors.
Also, Affleck understands the brilliance of the source material and the talent of the actors involved and, as a result, doesn’t rely on style gimmicks, unlike many other first time directors. The few deliberate stylistic devices employed in the film are well placed, and always enhance, but never take away from the scene.
The film’s protagonist is played by Ben’s younger brother, Casey Affleck. It’s a curious choice given Casey’s lack of experience as a lead actor, and the fact that a noir’s success largely depends on the strength of its central character. However, the choice is consistent with Affleck’s other casting decisions in regards to casting people that look and breathe the part, rather than a name. Casey is perfect as the cocky, crafty, street-smart private investigator that, along with his girlfriend/sidekick, becomes consumed by the case. Casey’s acting is like Ben’s directing: understated but piercing when necessary. After seeing Casey as Patrick Kenzie it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the role.
The rest of the central characters are acted with the skill you would expect from the actors playing the roles, including Morgan Freeman, Michelle Monaghan, and Ed Harris.
Gone Baby Gone is a greatly effective film. Every motion and every decision that was made in the production of the film works. The film is concerned with the question of whether or not doing the “right thing” is always the right thing to do. The film illustrates the difficulty of this question with Patrick’s final decision. A choice that will always stay with Patrick Kenzie, and will stick with the audience long after the film is over.
Commenting Rules: Comments are intended to open up the discussion to our readers about the topics at hand, and as such should be offered with a positive and constructive attitude. If your comment is not relative to the above post or is disrespectful to the authors and readers, we reserve the right to delete it. Continued abuse of our good nature will result in banishment of the offender. Additionally, if you have any burning issues to point out to the GATW crew - typos, corrections, suggestions, or straight-up criticism - please email us instead of commenting here.