Gone Baby Gone
Gone Baby Gone marks Ben Affleck's directorial debut with questionable results. Granted, it can be seen as a noble effort (Affleck also co-wrote the script)"”but it failed to make a connection with this critic. In fact, my immediate reaction after viewing the film was that I absolutely despised it. After some deep breaths to calm my hatred and some careful reflection, I think I understand why people will like this film and why it will receive some critical acclaim. Not that I agree.
It's provocative to be sure, morally corrupt in many ways, suspenseful and full of violent action. The effect of Gone Baby Gone is much akin to being stabbed in the gut and having the knife twisted repeatedly. And if you like that sort of movie-going experience, I guess you might like Gone Baby Gone.
Set in South Boston (an area in which Affleck is quite familiar) and beginning with establishing shots of the area's, shall we say, less refined (read: the trashiest of trash) inhabitants, the story revolves around a 4-year-old girl gone missing. When the police fail to turn up any leads on her whereabouts, the family turns to two local private investigators who specialize in finding missing persons. Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck, a promising talent) and his partner Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) reluctantly take on the case and quickly realize they may be in over their heads.
The little girl comes from an unsavory home environment"”her mother's a crack-addict thief who's notorious for neglecting her child. It soon becomes clear that there are certain people in this mother's life that would have motive to kidnap her daughter. Right away you're left with an unsettling feeling; you want the little girl to be found safe, but do you really want her to be returned to that? Well, that's exactly what Patrick promises to do"”find the little girl and bring her home to her disgusting, unfit mother. Why he makes this touching promise to such an undeserving woman is not entirely clear.
What is clear is that Patrick has issues with morality. Constantly quoting his childhood priest, you can tell that thoughts of right and wrong plague him. It's this fear of sin, I think, that makes Patrick into the person he is. It's also something that made me dislike his character immensely. He's a walking contradiction, who tries way too hard to be the hero. His loyalty to the rules prohibits him from bending them in anyone's favor, even when that may in fact be the better decision. The so-called "right"Â decision he makes at the end completely baffled and frustrated me. I couldn't help but feel that it was all a ploy, a forced contrivance to make the film feel unpredictable and edgy.
The kidnapping saga takes many twists and turns, mostly involving the dregs of society (drug dealers, addicts,
murderers, child molesters are among the despicable human beings we are forced to endure). The police seem to be the only upstanding citizens around, or so you think. Morgan Freeman
plays the haunted police captain Jack Doyle and Ed Harris
shows up as the tough-as-nails detective Remy Bressant. It's a winding tale filled with such dead-end hopelessness that it's actually quite sad.
To put it simply, Ben Affleck just overdoes it in his first directing venture. He overdoses on the film's "grittiness"Â, its violence, its darkness, to the point of utter bleakness. There's a child molestation subplot, so unnecessarily gruesome it'll make you cringe in horror.
Whether you like this film or not surely depends on taste. But for me one thing's for certain"”after watching Gone Baby Gone the only taste I was left with was bitterness.
Movie Grade: C-
Based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same title, “Gone, Baby, Gone” is a story about a two detectives in search of a 4 year old girl that has been kidnapped in Boston.