Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gone Baby Gone

"Kids forgive, they don't judge, they turn the other cheek, and what do they get for it?"

Written by: Aaron Stockard & Ben Affleck

Directed by: Ben Affleck

Starring: Casey Affleck, Amy Ryan, Ed Harris, Michelle Monaghan

My rating: 7/10

Gone Baby Gone is a difficult film to judge. As a story, it's about as interesting and gripping as you can get, but as a piece of filmmaking it's enjoyable but very flawed. So, I guess it may be filed under entertaining but nothing special. However, I would hate to downplay just how good this film is. It is a very affecting film and a very gripping story.

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Mystic River author Dennis Lehane, the film tells the story of a little girl who is taken from her home without a trace. Her mother is a junkie skank who didn't look after her but cant handle the guilt and shock of all that is happening. Her sister hires Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck)to "augment" the investigation along with the police because in their dodgy neighbourhood, people aren't too forthcoming with enquiries from the police. Patrick, having lived there his whole life knows the seedy underbelly and all its shady characters. The investigation is gripping and full of macguffins and is a moral rollercoaster which shows how ethically messy some situations can be.

The acting is superb. Casey Affleck shines through as a fantastic leading man again (after this years Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, you all know my feelings on that movie), balancing street smart toughness with everyman likeability. His supporting cast is led by Amy Ryan playing the kidnapped girl's mother who throughly deserved her Oscar nomination. The main area in which it falls down is in its structure. The novel clearly consists of a story which ends in a series of false epilogues, which I'm sure worked well in the novel, but in terms of cinematic adaptation, these false endings seem a little trying on the nerves. By the end of the film, I felt satisfied with the conclusion, but all the "it's it isn't" was very jarring to watch.

Overall, I would certainly recommend this film for a saturday night. It's a lot better than one might have expected from Mr. Affleck. A LOT better...but it probably won't be studied in film schools.

- Charlene Lydon 20/03/08

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