Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gone Baby Gone: A Good Thriller

For his directorial debut, Ben Affleck offers us a movie that stays in our mind for quite a while. Indeed, Gone Baby Gone is far to be a type of film that you watch just to leave your grey matters at rest! In short, rent this movie if you enjoy watching sombre movies with strong performance

In the poor neighbourhood of Dorchester (Boston, MA), young Amanda McCready is apparently abducted. Obviously, two of her relatives will hire Patrick Kenzie and Angie Genarro, two private detectives, to "augment the investigation". However, when Patrick and Angie discover the whole truth, they'll wonder if it has to be accepted.

Gone Baby Gone is unforgettable, for it tries to make us think. While investigating, Patrick and Angie are plunged in a world that looks black and white. However, as the investigation progresses, the movie pits us against tough moral questions: when does an act, even one fraught with good intentions, become a sheer crime? Without condoning the abduction of children, Gone Baby Gone shows us that what is good for some people might be bad for others.

On the surface, Ben Affleck has a killer premise to deal with the complexity of human nature in both situations of sanity and insanity. Nonetheless, while the characters are well rendered and easy to understand, most of the dialogues barely show the visible depth of their inner thoughts.

Since we're not reading the novel, Affleck should have seen that viewers don't have the book's narration to show the characters' inner thoughts. With that said, he should have taken the freedom to further elaborate the main characters' exchanges (especially at the end) on what's a crime and what's not while facing the whole truth.

As a result of that, viewers wouldn't get to see the characters develop their thoughts with ethical arguments that often look childish in their form. In the end, even though the dialogues are a little bit flawed, our final interpretation about the characters' own psyche does compensate for the dialogue's lack of flesh in some parts of the movie.

Still you can rest reassured that the well chosen cast's performance will elate you. Casey Affleck (Ocean's Twelve), Michelle Monaghan (North Country) and Morgan Freeman (Unleashed), respectively showing up as Patrick, Angie and captain Jack Doyle, display a solid and sober performance. However, it is definitely Ed Harris (A History of Violence) and Amy Ryan (Capote) who turn the spotlight on their side even though their characters are a little bit one-dimensional. In addition to that, we can also mention the movie's accent of neo-realism that reminds us of Zhang Yimou's Not One Less, which means hiring real locals to play some supporting characters.

Finally, it's unfortunate that the dialogues needed to be elaborated and that the storyline develops the characters often way too quickly. However, while we discover unknown faces of Hollywood (Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan and Amy Ryan), Ben Affleck (who seems to have a good control on the movie) casts a good observation on today's societies and by extension, the people who inhabit them. You'll not forget this movie once it's over, because it pushes you to wonder how far some people are ready to go just to show their love for children...

Rating: 4/5


Gone Baby Gone
USA (2007)
Genre: Dramatic thriller
Length: 114 minutes
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Screenplay: Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman, Amy Ryan and John Ashton

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