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Gone Baby Gone: Good Baby Great

Note: After much pleading, Buzz let me go see this movie to review. Thanks, Buzz!

As a Boston area native, movies about the city usually fall within two distinct categories. There are movies about the city’s academia — Good Will Hunting. And there are movies about the gritty parts of the town — a la Mystic River or even Boondock Saints. At this point, Ben and Casey Affleck have seen, lived and made movies on both side of this off Boston dichotomy (most famously in the first example), but I’m happy to say that their foray into the serious, Gone Baby Gone, is more than a success. From the first five minutes on, GBG is a movie wrought with moral dilemmas, seedy characters, and lies told for questionable reasons. None of these are easy to put into film without being heavy handed, but thanks to an excellent cast, script, and in Ben’s able hands, they created a gut wrenching and, ultimately, great movie.

Being that the movie is based on another of Dennis Lehane’s novels (with a vaguely similar story line, and a punch-in-the-gut ending), it will suffer from the constant comparisons to Clint Eastwood's Mystic River. Luckily, Ben's first effort at directing can withstand those criticisms, even if he's not yet Eastwood. Or, to be fair, dealing with a cast of Eastwood proportions. That being said, one of the best things that Ben had going for him was his actors, especially his brother Casey.

To read the rest of my review just

Time and time again, Ben has asserted that he gave the role to the best actor, who just happened to be his brother. But he was also in the unique (and fortuitous) position for Casey to be one of the first actors to come to mind for the lead character. Casey's crackling voice and boyishly handsome face are perfect for the role. He plays Patrick Kenzie, a private detective hired by the aunt of a missing 4-year-old girl, whose quest to bring the child back home uncovers sides of his city and its people that anyone would be loathe to admit exist.

Smaller roles taken on by greats like Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris, embattled police chief and detective respectively, are stand-out performances in the movie, but the ladies hold their own, too. Relative newcomers like Michelle Monaghan, who plays Patrick's girlfriend/partner and Amy Ryan, who plays the drug addict mother of the missing girl, each bring their own well-constructed intricacies to the story.

The acting carries the movie, but the script provides an excellent vehicle for the complicated and multi-dimensional characters to shine. Or, as the case may be, not shine at all. As with Lehane's other book, this movie deals with the lengths that people will go to do what they feel is right and the vast, gaping gray areas of morality it can create. Bringing children into the mix takes a depressing look at society and makes it utterly heart wrenching. And at times, completely sickening. Honestly, parents of young kids be warned — it may be hard to watch.

The only real downfall of the movie is that the story is sometimes too complicated for its own good. After leaving the theater if I were asked to repeat the whole plot, I would surely get a bit muddled somewhere in the middle. It's not enough to ruin the movie, thankfully, and considering the film's strong points, it's easily forgivable.

Walking out of the theater, you will feel like the wind got knocked out of you. Just like in life, there are no real answers of right vs. wrong and morality changes depending on who you ask. Thankfully (and I will say that I've been rooting for Ben the whole time), Gone Baby Gone takes this difficult subject matter and manages to succeed, above and beyond my wildest expectations.

Photos Courtesy Miramax

Join The Conversation
DukesUp DukesUp 9 years
I JUST saw this movie. I liked it well enough.. up until the end where I felt like it was a complete waste of my time! The story was terribly heart wrenching, and yes, hard to watch at times, but seriously!? The ending!? Gimmie a break. I guess my expectations were too high that the film could be THAT GOOD the whole way through.
tundrababe tundrababe 9 years
I loved this movie. It was nice that they showed real people in the film, it felt authentic and real. The only thing I didn't like was the girlfriend - she drove me insane. She was so annoying and kept screwing up everything her boyfriend was doing. Arrgh.
nomerz nomerz 9 years
This is a must-see. I finally got to see it today. It's a movie that grabs ahold of you and doesn't let go. Very powerful and intense.
yiddidea yiddidea 9 years
This film was so good! Ben Affleck should be very proud. I noticed that he also co-wrote the screenplay, which you could tell. The sarcasm that Ben displays in interviews is definitely evident in Casey's character. I hope this will finally be the star making movie for Casey, who I have LOVED since Good Will Hunting. Molly mentioned how great the accents were, which is very true. Casey has such a thick Boston dialect that at times I had trouble understanding him, which didn't bother me really, just made it more authentic. I definitely give this film a big thumbs up!
nadioz nadioz 9 years
Ben Affleck should stay behind the camera forever ! he did a good job.
ElleJay ElleJay 9 years
i LOVED this movie. totally didn't see that ending comming.
PrincessTracy PrincessTracy 9 years
Can't wait!!! I wanna see!!!!
hoanghoadaochu hoanghoadaochu 9 years
ben has talent huh?
beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
i haven't heard much about this movie but because of your review, i might check it out!
tralalala tralalala 9 years
I saw this last night and was totally blown away. Good for you Ben Affleck.
redegg redegg 9 years
I'm so glad this bok got made into a movie! I'm a huge fan of Dennis Lehane's whole series and read it while living in Southie so it was eerie. I can't wait to see this! The storyline is great.
gruaig_rua gruaig_rua 9 years
I can't wait to see this but I can't find any information on a release date for Ireland :(
Miss-Delicious Miss-Delicious 9 years
I want to see this too!!!!!
ALSW ALSW 9 years
I really want to see this. Even more so now!
bhilb bhilb 9 years
I'm excited to see this movie, it looks great! Plus, I'm always rooting for Ben Affleck and fam. I read in the New York Times that he used as few union extras as he could legally get away with in lieu of using actual Bostonians that he met along the way. He said they looked and sounded more real than the extras.
nomerz nomerz 9 years
I really want to see this movie. Great review, Molly!
Kkkkkkkkkkk Kkkkkkkkkkk 9 years
Wow, sounds intense. Good for him for picking something meaty and challenging for his debut. Not sure how long I'll have to wait to see it though, I understand he's delaying the release in the UK at least (hopefully not Ireland too) because of the similarities to the Madeline McCann disappearance.
susanec susanec 9 years
I've been rereading it because I can't really remember the series too much (GBG is where they start to get good, the writing really picks up and starts to lose the noir cliches). I'm glad it's getting such good reviews.
Molly Molly 9 years
Thank you, Cymone! That definitely made my day. Oh yes...the Boston accents were way better than Mystic River (and most other movies). Definite plus of casting an actual Boston boy in the lead.
Liss1 Liss1 9 years
I can't wait to see this movie. I'm from MA and i love seeing movie's about Boston, hopefully there are not any really cheesy Boston accents!
slumberlite slumberlite 9 years
I'm from Boston. A Dot girl. I still live in Massachusetts. I've been hearing great stuff about the movie, especially about the authenticity of the characters (accents!), and the insider locations (Quincy quarries!). I can't wait to see this. Ben is making us proud :-)
Cymone Cymone 9 years
Your writing is great, I think that alone makes me interested in the movie. That aside, GBG sounds wonderful and right up my ally-- thought inducing movies that hit home.
SassAndBide SassAndBide 9 years
wow its almost 5 stars, impressive ;)
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