Gone Baby Gone (USA; 114 min.)

directed by: Ben Affleck
starring: Casey Affleck; Michelle Monaghan; Morgan Freeman; Ed Harris; John Ashton; Amy Ryan
Gone Baby Gone

Bruce says: "For his directorial debut (we won’t count his earlier short I KILLED MY LESBIAN WIFE, HUNG HER ON A MEAT HOOK, AND NOW I HAVE A THREE-PICTURE DEAL WITH DISNEY) Ben Affleck had the good sense to draw upon excellent source material. Denis Lehane began his hard core detective series set in South Boston featuring detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro with the jolting novel A Drink before the War. Gone Baby Gone is the fourth book in the series. With a well-written script it is easy to overlook a film’s other flaws, except there aren’t many to overlook in GONE BABY GONE. Affleck’s adept direction and his well-penned screenplay are supplemented with a superb cast and a riveting, somewhat over-the-top plot line. He is extraordinarily even-handed as he blends together melodrama, a bit of film noir, and the tension of a good thriller.

"When Amanda McCready is kidnapped in Dorchester, the police claim they will find the perpetrator. As the hours pass the clues are getting cold. When approached by the aunt of the little girl (Amy Madigan), private detectives Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) debate whether or not to take the case. Fueled by compassion and neighborhood loyalty, the two detectives agree to get involved.

"The police chief (Morgan Freeman) and the police detective in charge of the case (Ed Harris) treat Kenzie and Gennaro like rank amateurs. Immediately the private detectives discover that Helene (Amy Ryan), the mother of the child, was carousing at a local bar and the child had been left alone at the time she was kidnapped. Soon the mother’s history of boozing and drugs is revealed. The police look like idiots. The girl’s family is not happy to have their dirty laundry aired. Could this be a no-win situation?

"Following many twists and turns Kenzie and Gennaro get closer to the truth. Angie has second thoughts as the search gets rough; Patrick, however, remains resolute. His doggedness comes back to haunt him by the film’s end in a most amusing way. Many people seem to be absorbed by the moral dilemma of the film. I personally did not find the dilemma as heart-wrenching as some other viewers. My decision was instantly made as to which side of the fence I would land.

"Amy Ryan has won at least a dozen awards for her gritty, no-holds-barred performance as the irresponsible, amoral mother of the kidnapped girl. For years Casey Affleck has been a major talent waiting to be noticed. With GONE BABY GONE and THE ASSASSIINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, he is finally getting roles that give him his due. The only weak aspect of the film for me is the performance of Michelle Monaghan; she just isn’t the Angie I had experienced in print. 4.5 cats"

Thom says: "Coincidentally, I also gave this film 4.5 cats, but, admittedly, I was one of the ones who felt a moral dilemma at the conclusion. Not huge, but still there. By the way, I liked this film more than MYSTIC RIVER, from the same novelist."