Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 2007
Directed by
Ben Affleck
114 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
3.5 stars

Gone Baby Gone

Synopsis: In a seamy neighbourhood of Boston, four-year-old Amanda has gone missing. The distraught aunt and uncle appear on TV appealing for help. The police have few leads and so the aunt enlists the help of private detectives Patrick (Casey Affleck) and Angie (Michelle Monaghan). The two are familiar with the rough-and-tough element of the neighbourhood, and Patrick knows Helene, (Amy Ryan), the child’s drug-addicted mother. The pair work along with veteran policeman Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) and Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman). The trail leads them to drug dealers, ex-cons and child abusers. Just as they think the case is over Patrick is driven to investigate further, which leads him to a web of lies and deceit and presents him with the mother of all moral choices.

Dennis Lehane wrote Mystic River, the novel which inspired the wonderful film of the same name. His lesser-known novel Gone Baby Gone has a certain similarity in its themes. Obviously the issue of child abuse and missing children is common to both films. This one is unflinching in its portrayal of a group of very nasty child-abusers who are almost a second string to the main plot item of the missing child. Although nothing too explicit is shown, there are moments of bleakness, darkness and nastiness implied that no doubt, along with language, garner the films its MA rating. First-time director Affleck, better known as an actor, is also responsible for co-scripting this film and he captures all the grittiness and sleaziness of the milieu in which the story is set, using many real patrons of the seedy bars in the area in which the action is set.

Gone Baby Gone is a thriller but it is also a film with an intense moral issue at its heart. It would be spoiling things to reveal just what this is but suffice to say that it will no doubt polarise audiences in a debate as to what to do in cases of neglected kids. The character of Helene (Amy Ryan), Amanda’s mother, although a small role, is pivotal to the issue. She’s the sort of woman often referred to as “trailer trash”, but she is also a mother to a kid she loves. Ryan brings great complexity to her character and elicits some sympathy for a character we could otherwise detest.

The leading men are all strong in their roles. Casey Affleck shows his talent yet again whilst the always-excellent Ed Harris is powerful as the police officer with a lot to hide. The ubiquitous Freeman fortunately doesn’t do any voiceovers, but I’d have preferred to see someone less well-known in the role of Doyle.

Where the film falls short in comparison with Mystic River is in its inability to maintain the tension consistently. Once the case of Amanda is seemingly resolved but the story continues, I felt almost as if a new unrelated film were starting. Even more disorienting as the plot convolutions emerge at the end, there seems to be too much exposition and use of flashback to let the audience to what really happened. One feels that somehow, there should have been a better way of achieving this. Nevertheless, Gone Baby Gone is a fine first film for Affleck with excellent acting by all, a moral dilemma that will stay with you long after the film is gone and a final scene that is at once heart-breaking and haunting




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst