In order for a director to keep getting jobs after his debut, that debut has to be good, or at least, good enough for someone to notice him. Gone Baby Gone is the directorial debut of actor Ben Affleck. It stars his brother, Casey, as Patrick Kenzie, a private investigator who gets hired, along with his partner (Michelle Monaghan), to help in the case of a missing child. They team up with a couple of detectives (Ed Harris and John Ashton), and the story moves on from there. Saying more regarding it would be spoiling, and that is something that you don’t want to happen.
The plot takes many twists and turns along the way, with it coming very close to ending twice before it actually does. More things are revealed after these points in time, revealing more of what actually happened earlier on in the film. You don’t get the entire story until right near the end, and this ends up being a very effective way of telling the plot.
Gone Baby Gone brings up a couple important questions while it’s on the screen. The first one is a moral dilemma, one that you won’t need to think about until near the end of the film. It is still important, though, and is something that will warrant thought after the film ends. “What is home?” is the other question that it asks. This is an overlying theme of the film. Trust me, it’ll make sense once you see it.
The film takes place in present day Boston, and deals with many things that movies often try to avoid, at least to some degree. It has drugs, child abuse, and pedophilia. It doesn’t get hard to watch, but some of the subject matter discussed is hard to get through at times. It’s odd, because you do end up caring about some of the characters involved, despite the fact that you aren’t given much reason to care.
This is the main issue with Gone Baby Gone; it has characters we don’t get to learn much about. They don’t develop all that much throughout the film either, except for the plot twists which make you look at certain characters differently. That’s not development; it’s just a change in perspective. We don’t get much reason for the characters to act the way they do, except for Morgan Freeman‘s character. He’s a police captain who lost a child of his own, so it does make sense that he would do whatever he could to solve the case of another child’s disappearance. It makes sense, but there is an issue I have with him. He isn’t in the movie all that much. He has a couple of scenes at the beginning and then doesn’t appear again until the end. Morgan Freeman’s star power was an example of deceptive marketing, as he is barely in the final product.
Gone Baby Gone is the directorial debut of Ben Affleck. It is a good one.
As we have come to expect from Freeman, he gives a great performance, as does the rest of the cast. Casey Affleck manages to pull the “tough-guy” act well, and Ed Harris steals every scene he is in. Michelle Monaghan doesn’t actually make much impact on anything, and it almost seems odd for her to be included in the film. Her character does nothing important in the entire film. She’s not given much to work with and seems to only be there so that Casey has someone to defend whenever we begin to doubt his tough-guy persona.
What really works in the film’s favor is the fact that, despite being a plot heavy film, the plot is easy to understand. It doesn’t require a lot of attention in order to understand it, even with all of the twists that occur. This is good, as it allows the audience to follow along easily, and it means they can become emotionally invested in the story and characters without much effort.
The film is an emotionally driven film. Since it dances around such touchy subjects, the characters at least allow you to know what they are feeling throughout. This is helpful for everyone watching it. It allows for an emotional connection with the characters and makes you feel for them and the people with whom they interact. That also makes the ending all the more powerful, leaving you with a “what would you do?” feeling.
Gone Baby Gone is the directorial debut of Ben Affleck. It is a good one. It manages to be thrilling, despite there not being a lot of action, and it gives you characters that are oddly charming. It fails to give the characters proper back story or development, but they manage to still become emotionally attached to the viewer. The acting is great, and the difficult subject matter, as well as the moral choice at the end of the film, only serves to make it an incredibly moving experience.
Conclusion: Gone Baby Gone is an impressive directorial debut from one Mr. Ben Affleck.
Recommendation: Gone Baby Gone is a worthwhile Boston crime drama.