Gone Baby Gone

RATED - (R) -154-MIN-2007

             "In his first major directing effort, Ben Affleck hit it out of the Paak"

For his first major effort behind the camera, Ben Affleck's: (Gone Baby Gone) based on the bestseller by author and frequent movie source (Dennis Lehane) is a stellar debut.I saw this when it came out, and loved it. Over the past few years, as with many films I liked, I have watched it many times. I actually , for it's genre, consider this to be one of the best films of it's kind in many years; right up there with (Clint Eastwood's) film adaptation of: (Mystic River).Yes, it is that good. Affleck really does not misstep for his freshman effort. The story and the writing,(also by Aflleck and Aaron Stockard)) the acting, camerawork, and soundtrack is all excellent.

The opening shot, with a narration by the films main character: private eye Patrick Kenzie (a very good and solemn Casey Affleck) about the neighborhood he lives in in Boston, and the many lost and forgotten people who live there is brilliant. From the beautiful and somber score by:(Harry Gregson-Williams) to the people, who are not actors, hanging out on their front porch, watching some kind of event unfold, it is a pitch perfect way to start this crime/mystery. As a fellow Bostonian, it feels real. It is a wonderful setup, and you are hooked.

A little girl: Amanda (Madeline O'Brien) has gone missing in Dorchester, and like in many places, the people, who live in the neighborhood are rallying to help find this poor child, who has been taken from her mother. Patrick,a private investigator with his girlfriend and partner: Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan), also live in the city, and know it well. They  kind of chuckle at the media circus coverage on TV, and the show of force by the police on the missing girls front doorstep. They're  just old enough to be that cynical. The little girl's mother: Helene Macready (a phenomenal Amy Ryan) is a drunk and a coke head, who does love her daughter, but cares more about herself first...as most addicts do. Everyone knows someone like this. Out of desperation, her sister in law: Bea  (Amy Madigan ) and her reluctant brother: Lionel (Titus Welliver ), who live in the same three decker house, ask Patrick and Angie if they will help out, as they feel they know people who won't talk to the police. Reluctant at first, they decide to help. The Boston Police captain: Doyle ( Morgan Freeman) is not to happy to hear this, and he begrudgingly agrees to have two of his veteran detectives: Remy  Bressant (Ed Harris) and: Nick Poole (John Ashton), fill the P.I.'s in on what they know about the case. Veteran actors Harris and Ashton, are wonderful, as are everybody in this movie. The casting was another great win for this movie. There isn't a bad note by any of them....outside of a few off Boston accents here and there. (Ryan) who was rightly nominated for best supporting actress, nails hers dead on. 

As Patrick and Angie start to look into Amanda's disappearance, the locals they meet up with, are salty, real, and in many cases, as scary as anything else in this movie. There are multiple scenes in the film, where you have no idea where this will go. Part of the movie, is of course about who took this girl and why, and how the pieces come together.The film ratchets up the tension, as our main characters start to unravel the mystery of Amanda's disappearance. Being a Boston boy like Affleck, I truly appreciated the local flavor that his vision brings to the film. This guy knows the city, and more importantly, the smaller beats and touches that add so much to this great film.Many Hollywood films that take place here, work in cliches...he knows the tone of the city. Now,the subject matter of children that go missing, and kids that are abused is tough for most people. Even here, where it could be gratuitous, Affleck show reserve, and respects that we don't need horrible images thrown in our face, to make a point about what is done to kids. We get it.

Ben Affleck is the real deal as a filmmaker, and Gone Baby gone, despite being his first major directing job is a home run for him. Sorry, I had to use a baseball metaphor.... a fellow Red Sox fan.

If you haven't seen this movie, see it, because it is a film gem.

watch the trailer: