“Gone Baby, Gone” (review)

I caught a premiere screening of this tonight, and went into with hopes of a fairly engaging drama/thriller, but what I ended up getting was one of the most powerful, explosive and suspenseful films of this year, let alone decade.

What comes to your mind when you think of Ben Affleck? Hack, bad actor, snobby, talentless, etc… These opinions are based on people running their mouths, and other people following the trend, and once people see this film, they cannot call him ‘talentless’ any further. He displays some of the most intense direction of this year, and it being his first time behind the camera, really gives me a new view on how versatile this man is. Great actor (when he chooses the right roles), excellent screenwriter, and now a top notch director? Who would’ve thought.

Along with the direction of the film, Ben Affleck along with Aaron Stockford adapted the Dennis Lehane novel of the same name. Now, I haven’t read the book, or even given any thought to do so, but after this experience, I think I must read it. The screenplay hits you on so many levels. It starts at the beginning, with the tear inducing scenario. As it progresses, you get caught up in “Patrick Kenzie’s” mindset, so you feel as he feels. This includes rage, disgust, fear and anticipation. Further on into the film, you get twists and turns everywhere, but not in a messy flurry, but in a well paced, coherent fashion. Overall, I’d say this film has it all. From some of the best scenes of the year, to some of the most interesting characters.

The cast of this film is exactly what I thought of the film; fabulous.We’ll start off with the most disappointing performance of the movie, Morgan Freeman as “Jack Doyle“. It isn’t ‘disappointing’ in the negative, “he was horrible” type of way, but disappointing because the trailers play this film off has him being a major supporting player, where he is in it for no more than 10 minutes. Though, the positive thing about this is that for the brief time Freeman is on the screen, you cannot avoid him. He dominates the screen with his presence, and it is felt.

Onto a performance I didn’t expect much of going into the movie, Michelle Monaghan as Patrick’s girlfriend and partner in Private Investigations, “Angie Gennaro“. She wasn’t bad at all, I just preferred the rest of the cast to her. The sad thing is, for all the time she’s given on screen, there isn’t really much for her to work with. She’s just there, standing behind Affleck. Though the bad isn’t without it’s good, because when she is actually given a juicy scene, she runs with it. She is a great actress, and I’m glad to see her in a huge supporting role (or partial lead, depending on your take), in such a grand film.

A lot of people (around here) are considering Amy Ryan to be a dark horse in this year’s Supporting Actress race. For those who are interested, or do not know who she is, you probably will soon. She plays “Helene McCready“, the mother of the kidnapped daughter. To be honest, she did impress me. I never considered her for anything major. Actually, I never gave the idea a second thought, until now. This performance mirrors that of Mercedes Ruehl’s in The Fisher King, just more ‘ghetto’. Sure, the trailers play her off as a sincere mother missing her daughter, but in the film she is a completely different person, and what some would call a ‘hood-rat’. For the first quarter of the film, she has a heavy hand in the plot, and with that has quite a large role, but after that quarter is up, she is almost nowhere to be seen. Basically, what I’m saying here is if you love powerful, standout roles that consist of 20 minutes in length, then this is a major reason for you to see it.

Ed Harris, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. An actor with one of the most outstanding resumes, and certainly deserving of it. What can I say about this man that hasn’t been said before? He takes the role of “Det. Remy Bressant to another level, not without thanks to the wonderful script. In his scenes as a man hunting cop, he is very convincing, mainly because he carries himself in such a way, it’s hard to separate the fact that it’s acting to reality. Along with these scenes, he has very intense fits of rage and passion that are just wonderful. A very well rounded performance by Mr. Harris, indeed.

Onto the lead of the film, and the main reason I saw this film, Casey Affleck. He plays P.I “Patrick Kenzie“, who is constantly on the prowl for information. From what I saw in the trailer, he looked kinda out of place and stale with his perpetuation of dialog. But during the film, I found that they chose really good snippets of scenes, but just placed them horribly for the marketing. Take for example Amy Ryan saying “Promise me you’ll find her. Promise me!” and he goes “I promise”. It seems so awkwardly acted, but yet in the film it flows so naturally. Alright, so onto his performance as a whole. Mr. Affleck was just incredible in this role, and certainly not what you’d expect. Normally in these films, you’ve got a ruthless protagonist, who’d do anything to find the missing person. Yet in this film, he plays the role with subtlity and quirkiness, which adds a compelling element to the plot. This element is ‘will he do it or not’, which occurs a lot through the film in many situations, which makes the film more unpredictable, and therefore more enjoyable.

Onto the technical aspects of the film. I can’t really say much in this category, except that the film editing was a crucial element throughout the entirety. The constantly engaging pace made the film what it was. The editing was also very important in the last half an hour, displaying many important scenes in a very orderly fashion.The cinematography was fine, but nothing too outstanding in my eyes. The only exception being a wonderful overhead shot of a quarry, which was just breathtaking and added beauty, as well as an unsettling peaceful scenario.

Finally, the score composed by Harry Gregson-Williams was fairly uninspired, and was the only real noticeable fault in this section. While the whole film is suspenseful, this reused, cliche dreck plays in the background more often than not. I’m not saying it doesn’t do it’s job to add that extra hint of suspense. All I’m saying is that it was disappointing for such an astounding film to have such a mediocre score.

Nominations for Gone Baby Gone
Best Picture (#3)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Amy Ryan (#5)
Best Director – Ben Affleck (#2)
Best Adapted Screenplay – Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard (#1!)
Best Film Editing (#2)

Rating : 9/10


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