Movie Mind Says: Buy It
If You Like This You Should Watch: We Own the Night, Lucky Number Slevin
Better Than: No Country for Old Men, Internal Affairs
Worse Than: The Usual Suspects (but very close)
Starring: Casey Affleck, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Michelle Monaghan
It took me this long to realize something about the brothers’ Affleck…there is actually some legitimate acting talent in the family. As I’m sure you can tell, there was only one Affleck in Gone Baby Gone, so it should be a foregone conclusion that I am referring of course, to Casey.
Before I delve too deep into my new favorite pastime, Ben-bashing, let me give a bold prediction: Ben will become a legitimate talent and leave much more of a lasting legacy on his career from his writing and directing than his acting. I am the first one to acknowledge that the acting gene skipped right over him and smacked Casey in the face, but I have to be truthful and admit that Ben is one hell of a talented writer/director. If we can just keep him away from anymore Gigli’s maybe his career can be saved from the long running joke it has become. If we start with Good Will Hunting and skip to Gone Baby Gone, I would be hard-pressed to find a better written and directed pair of films.
Set in Boston, Ben is able to be at home again and truly make you feel like if there is anything this guy knows, it’s Boston. The people, places, and surroundings couldn’t be more authentic. How do I know this? Well for one thing, I haven’t seen that many ugly people on a big screen since Tori Spelling filmed her family reunion. For another thing, you couldn’t pull off this movie without the authenticity factor. It’s a wonder why so many films go off to far reaching places that only pale in comparison to the actual places they are trying to recreate.
Gone Baby Gone is a creative story that keeps the audience guessing at which way it will turn. Usually the guesses are incorrect which only goes to show you how well the story is told. Not only is it extremely suspenseful, but it ties in some moral issues that have no clear answer and force the audience to think [gasp] if they put themselves in that situation.
Casey Affleck plays Patrick Kenzie, a local Boston private detective who traces people who have disappeared from debts or some other kind of worldly obligation. He is born and bred in the part of town he works and knows more about the local townsfolk than most others. This is the main reason that the aunt and uncle of a missing little girl seek out him and his girlfriend/detective partner (Michelle Monaghan), Angie Gennaro, to help in the search for her. Kenzie and Gennaro use their local contacts to dig into the case and weed out a few suspects, only the deeper they dig the more complicated things get. They team up with the local police detectives in charge of the case (Ed Harris and John Ashton) who are hesitant at first to help but soon become a true “team” after the young PI’s prove themselves. It is hard to follow who are the real ones being played here, and what the “right” answer to the case may be.
Casey Affleck is quietly taking these lead roles and adding the depth and emotion that they require. Between this film and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford he should have received some kind of award from the Academy. These days in Hollywood it is quite an impressive feat to put together back to back roles like this. It’s actually quite a feat just to not suck in back to back roles, let alone play some of the better characters we’ve seen in a while.
This is a film in which the true bad guys may not be whom they appear to be. There are many twists and turns en route to the surprise ending. It almost takes the form of two separate plots, with the main chase for the missing girl eventually eclipsed by the larger pursuit for what is right. I was enthralled from minute one and it never let up all throughout. While it may not be that good of a consolation prize, Gone Baby Gone gets The Movie Mind’s vote for last year’s best picture. Who knows, maybe one day that will mean something more.
Interesting Cameo Appearance: John Ashton (the former partner of Detroit’s finest, Axel Foley, aka Detective/Sergeant Taggart from Beverly Hills Cops) as Detective Nick Poole.
Patrick Kenzie: He lied to me. Now I can’t think of one reason big enough for him to lie about that’s small enough not to matter.
Patrick Kenzie: I always believed it was the things you don’t choose that makes you who you are. Your city, your neighborhood, your family. People here take pride in these things, like it was something they’d accomplished. The bodies around their souls, the cities wrapped around those. I lived on this block my whole life; most of these people have. When your job is to find people who are missing, it helps to know where they started. I find the people who started in the cracks and then fell through. This city can be hard. When I was young, I asked my priest how you could get to heaven and still protect yourself from all the evil in the world. He told me what God said to His children. “You are sheep among wolves. Be wise as serpents, yet innocent as doves.”
Dottie: I remember you from high school. I see you’re still a little conceited, huh?
Lionel McCready: I think she does a little coke.
Patrick Kenzie: How much is a little?
Lionel McCready: I don’t know. Few times a week, maybe. I mean how much is a lot?
Patrick Kenzie: Few times a week’s a lot.
Lionel McCready: Then she does a lot. I don’t know anything about that. I put the plug in the jug myself, I got twenty-three years sobriety, so, I’m good.
Capt. Jack Doyle: A four year old child is on the street. It’s seventy-six hours and counting. And the prospects for where she might be are beginning to look grim, you understand? Half of all the children in these cases are killed, flat out. If we don’t catch the abductor by day one, only about ten percent are ever solved. This is day three. He may look young, but if he wants to work this case, he better not act it.
Patrick Kenzie: Well, he’s been hired by a woman who’s the victim of a crime, and by law he’s entitled as her representative to be cooperated by the Boston Police Department. So he expects to be.
Capt. Jack Doyle: And so he will be.