Gone Baby Gone is the first film by director Ben Affleck. As an actor, I am not that impressed with Ben. As a director, though, he has shown himself very capable. GBG is about a child abduction case. It takes place in Boston, MA. Helene McReady (Amy Ryan) is the drug-addicted mother of the abducted child. Her sister-in-law, Bea (Amy Madigan) decides to hire some private investigators, Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan), to augment the police investigation. The police captain in charge of the missing children’s division is Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman). His own child was murdered many years previous. Patrick and Angie begin to work with the primary investigators on the case, Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) and Nick Poole (John Ashton). Patrick is from the neighborhood, and can talk with people who don’t talk with the police. As the investigation continues, everyone starts to wonder if they will find the child alive. Even if they do find her alive, she may not be in good hands with her derelict mother.
This is an emotionally intense movie. It is based on a novel by Dennis Lehane. Lehane also wrote the novel on which the movie Mystic River is based. They are similar movies in that they both are set in Boston, and they both involve crimes against children. They both contain characters with deep emotional scars. I think Mystic River is a little better movie. It affected me much more than GBG. That being said, GBG is a good movie. The acting is all very good. I have been very impressed with Casey Affleck. He was entertaining in the Ocean’s movies (Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen). Last year he also appeared in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, opposite Brad Pitt. He was very good in that. In GBG, he has a youth and innocence that contrasts well with the corruption that surrounds him.
The production design of this movie is very good. It was shot on location in Boston. Most of the extras were locals, many of whom are non-actors. All this gives the movie a very authentic feel. You get a real sense of the neighborhood.
Ben Affleck does a good job his first time as director. He doesn’t rely on cheap emotional manipulation, or unnecessary cinematic tricks. He tells the story in a very straightforward manner. The pacing is very nice. He takes the necessary time to tell the story, allow each scene a proper time. I can’t say he will become as good of a director as other actors (Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford in particular), but he did good with this movie. It helps that he is from the Boston area. He was able to apply an intimate knowledge that some one else might now have had.
Though it is gritty, and very emotional (especially for a parent), I would recommend it. It makes you think about things you’d rather not think about. I questioned some of the decisions of the characters. Yet, I wondered how I would react in the same situation. I didn’t approve of them, but I really could criticize them. I would recommend you check the content review of the movie before you see it (link to the right). It is raw, and dark, but if you can deal with that, it is worth seeing.