Gone Baby Gone


Directed by: Ben Affleck
Written by:Ben Affleck, Aaron Stockard
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman, Amy Ryan, Amy Madigan
Released: April 17, 2008
Grade: C+

A 4-year-old girl has been abducted from her mother’s home in the middle of the night.  No one knows who took Amanda McCready or whether she is still alive.  The story has captured the attention of the Boston media who are giving it maximum coverage.  Journalists are camped outside her house and are impatiently waiting for any news.

Three days pass and Amanda’s aunt, Beatrice (Madigan), decides to bring in a private investigator.  She feels the police aren’t doing a good enough job.  Responding to an advertisement in the paper, Beatrice hires Patrick Kenzie (Affleck) and his girlfriend, Angie Gennaro (Monaghan).  Patrick and Angie are up front and admit that they don’t have the experience for such an important case.  Beatrice wants them anyway.  She feels that their friendships with locals in the area will help them sniff out information that the police have been unable to find.

Beatrice is right.  Within a day, Patrick and Angie start making breakthroughs.  They learn that Amanda’s mother, Helene (Ryan), has been trafficking drugs for some nasty individuals.  A couple of weeks ago, Helene and her boyfriend stole $130,000 from a powerful drug dealer named “Cheese”.  It looks like they’ve found a suspect and a motive.

If you think it’s a simple matter of “case closed” then think again.  There are a lot of twists to this tale.  Everything appears to be all wrapped up after about an hour but the story then goes off on a new tangent.  It’s a perfect film for people who are after some suspense and like to be kept guessing.

By major qualm with the movie is that I felt it too hard to believe (one of my most common criticisms).  Every time Patrick starts asking questions, people seem to open up and spill their guts.  Is it really that easy in real life to get information out of someone?  I also had issues with some of the big surprises at the very end.  Could this actually have happened?  I’ve got serious doubts.

My review probably won’t mean too much because Gone Baby Gone has been well reviewed by most other critics.  It also scores highly from the public on the Internet Movie Database.  I guess I just didn’t get it.  Amy Ryan picked up a number of major awards for her role as Amanda’s mother.  She also earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress but lost out to Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton).

It’s worth mentioning that the film marks the directorial debut of actor Ben Affleck (Good Will Hunting).  Affleck also wrote the screenplay with friend Aaron Stockard.  It’s based on a novel written by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River).  I think Affleck does an admirable job as first-time director.  His film will leave you asking questions of yourself.  Will you agree with the actions of certain characters?  Whilst I liked the ethical issues being explored, I can’t overlook my grievances with the story as a whole.