Wow, an Oscar buzz movie that actually lives up to the hype. Gone Baby Gone delivers a solid drama that never sacrifices entertainment for message. Yet it is about something real, and something you can debate and discuss.
Review: Gone Baby Gone
Private detective Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and his partner/girlfriend (Michelle Monaghan) get hired to look into a missing four-year-old girl's case. The cops don't want his help, but he's good at his job so he can talk to neighborhood folks who wouldn't otherwise cooperate with the investigation.
The thing is, there are three or four phases to the plot beyond this. I wouldn't want to give any of them away, but where the film gets really interesting is when it branches off and gets deeper than the standard procedural investigation. Ben Affleck's script achieves the feeling of a novel with its sprawling story, but it is achieved within the framework of a two hour movie. Take that, Dennis "448 pages" Lehane.
Kenzie finds himself dealing with a world of ignorance and vulgarity. It is clearly not a place you want to spend too much time. Especially when it gets into pedophiles, the film deals with dark, unpleasant subjects, but does so tastefully.
The film puts low lifes on display, in a setting where you might not expect to find them. What do I know, but I didn't think the Jerry Springer crowd hung out in Boston. I guess every city has drug dens, even Annapolis where I'm from.
Even when the film is not asking questions about ethics and the good of children, it is compelling drama. There's nothing showy about it, nobody showing off behind or in front of the camera. They're just doing their jobs and telling the story. That says a lot in a competitive season where everyone wants to win a prize.
If it sounds like I'm praising Gone Baby Gone for achieving basic success, please do not discount that. Most filmmakers who tackle material of social and emotional weight get really carried away on their own agenda. The restraint Affleck shows speaks volumes about his skill as a storyteller, and Gone Baby Gone is a story for the ages.