Gone Baby Gone
Posted on October 27, 2007 by Kris Nelson
Things are never what they seem. Scratch that. People are never what they seem. Abusive parents media-broadcasting fibs (one woman microwaved her infant last year, recent forensic details disproved her previous alligator-teared account), crooked cops, dirty drug dealers, pedophiles… who’s left to trust? Good thing in a small town (inhabited by all of the aforementioned criminals) secrets are easily unraveled, crucial in order to get to the bottom of a heinous kidnapping.
In thriller Gone Baby Gone, a four-year-old girl goes missing in a neighborhood most wish would disappear. Leading a sideliner investigation is Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck), who is also shunned by superficial mind-traps, subject to agism due to his adorable mug. “He just looks young,” his stoic P.I. partner/girlfriend Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) assures Boston Police Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) of his capabilities. But this is Patrick’s neighborhood, and he is able to dig deeper than the cops can.
I’m being careful because I don’t want to give anything away in this review since the storyline is actually pretty darn amazing, chockful of suspense, drama and intrigue. Sure Ben Affleck plays a knucklehead well, but he tells/directs a good tale. Gone Baby Gone is based on a Dennis Lehane (Mystic River) novel, so you know interpersonal relationships and conversations will be the precipice to this mystery; this movie will not spell it out for you so easily. I love how Gone Baby Gone creates scenes almost akin to Hitchcock or old school mysteries, in the sense that you really had to pay attention to dialogue. Now that’s only if you want to be Sherlock at the cinema; feel free to sit back and enjoy the mastery unfurl.
Gone Baby Gone deals with people at a raw level, so of course it also deals with guilt. And not just any guilt, gut-ripping, hand-wringing Irish Catholic guilt. I am only familiar with gorgeously gilded Catholic Easters (when I was attending as many religious ceremonies as I could for examination/experience), but sweeping away the opulence certainly clears the way for a lot of profanity. In Gone Baby Gone, the F-bomb was dropped every other word. Freakin’ A, mofo. It really added to the casual, gritty feeling, and it also stood as an incessant reminder that this ain’t no fairytale.
Gone Baby Gone also bravely (and subtly) disputes the concept of family vs. outsiders, and the very definition of family. Being related by blood does not guarantee intense loyalty, honesty, or love, but one could find those things with a neighbor, co-worker or even a stranger. Ethics evolve and veer when a person is truly confronted by choice, and Patrick’s final decision is the most difficult because it affects strangers and loved ones. Who will his loyalty defend?
Despite a couple of minor odd edit shifts here and there (which only editing freaks like me would ever notice), Gone Baby Gone shines brilliant. Stunning performances swelling from warmth to suspicion, sweet steadycam strolls, captivating event shifts.. just brilliant.. or should I say muthafuhking brilliant.
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