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Gone Baby Gone

February 12, 2011

Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Director: Ben Affleck
Actors: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris

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Synopsis: Two private detectives (Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan) investigate the disappearance of a young girl from a poor family in Boston.

Review: If I had gone into Gone Baby Gone blind, not knowing the identity of the film’s director, I would have assumed it was made by a consummate Hollywood craftsman rather than Ben Affleck – an actor with limited credibility and little past history to suggest he could author such a mature a film (his co-writer credit on the fablistic Good Will Hunting doesn’t really count). What’s especially surprising about the strong end-result of Gone Baby Gone is not only is Affleck handling complex and controversial subject matter (the story of the abduction of a young girl), but as a work it straddles numerous genres, functioning at various stages as a gritty drama, thriller and action movie. The tendency under a more excitable director would have been to pitch the film at a histrionic level, but Affleck finds exactly the right sombre mood, particularly for the devastating moral dilemma which sees Casey Affleck’s character having to decide between returning the kidnapped girl to her rightful home (even if that is a horribly neglectful mother), or to leave her with the ‘kidnapper’ who in many ways has a better ethical and material claim to being guardian of the child. In a movie that has so much going for it, Affleck’s only marginal failures are his striving for a blue-collar Bostonian ambience (cutting to some dodgy inner-city streets and a few trailer-trash people here and there), and his slightly inauthentic casting of the relatively glamorous Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan as the supposedly ‘street’ private detectives who are hired to crack the case. (February 2011)

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