See this film before it’s Gone Baby Gone

Affleck's directorial debut Oscar-worthy

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

A scene from Gone Baby Gone

LOOK OUT BELOW! Casey Affleck, Ed Harris, Michelle Monaghan, and John Ashton (pictured) star in Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone. The ensemble cast does more than hold flashlights and look shocked. They actually make the film a great one to watch.

Gone Baby Gone
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Starring: Casey Affleck, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Michelle Monaghan

3.5 stars

It may surprise you Ben Affleck is garnering Oscar buzz for his directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone. But if you saw the kidnapping thriller last weekend, you’ll know why.

Affleck abandons his streak of low-quality flicks (Gigli anyone?) and returns to his Oscar-winning roots. The same fascinating writing that made Good Will Hunting a critical darling is at the heart of Gone Baby Gone.

The plot travels in several directions to spin a tale about a little girl’s kidnapping, its impact on a relationship, and police corruption. Affleck explores all three themes in a substantial plot filled with unexpected twists.

The talented ensemble cast makes the screenplay shine. Casey Affleck clearly intends to make 2007 his year, following up an Oscar-worthy turn in The Assassination of Jesse James with a multifaceted performance in this film.

Casey’s character, Patrick Kenzie, is a Bostonian private investigator who “finds the people that started in the cracks and then fell through.” When the aunt and uncle of missing four-year-old Amanda McCready approach Kenzie and his business partner/girlfriend, Angie Gennaro (Monaghan), Kenzie uses his inner-city connections to find leads the Boston police don’t have access to.

Kenzie wavers between tough-guy bravado " throwing punches at anyone who disrespects Gennaro " and being a honourable man who’s not sure he can justify the results of the kidnapping investigation. Casey weaves these multiple facets of Kenzie’s personality together to create a believable character viewers will root for.

Monaghan turns in a quiet but compelling performance as Gennaro. In spite of her frequent physical presence in Gone Baby Gone, Monaghan has few lines. Still, she enriches the film with her skilled acting, using her face as a canvas on which her emotions add depth to her scenes.

Freeman and Harris add marquee credibility to the film. Both veteran actors rarely disappoint, and their performances in Gone Baby Gone are no exception.

One of the film’s most impressive feats is its gritty realism. Many of the character actors in Gone Baby Gone really look like they live in a Boston ghetto. With tacky tattoos, cheap hair extensions and thick Boston accents, the actors (and extras) suit the film’s graffiti-covered set.

Affleck’s cinematography is also worthy of praise. With creative scene transitions and interesting colours and angles, he has created a film that seems both realistic and stylish. His skill behind the camera is as effective in slower, character-building scenes as it is in fast-paced suspenseful shots. It’s hard to believe this is Affleck’s directorial debut.

Finding fault with Gone Baby Gone is a difficult task. With impressive acting, an interesting script, and a talented new director, it’s no wonder Ben Affleck is back in critics’ good books.

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette