Gone Baby Gone
Ben Affleck’s long delayed (because of the Madeline McCann case) child abduction crime drama finally stumbles in to British cinemas. Based, like Clint Eastwood’s 2003 film Mystic River, on a novel by Irish Bostonian Dennis Lehane, Gone Baby Gone is another raw tale of abuse, pride, poverty and a very particular form of unhinged Massachusetts nobility.
When beautiful young girl Amanda (Madeline O’Brien) goes missing in a run down area of Boston, local private investigator Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and his girlfriend Angie (Michelle Monaghan) are hired for their knowledge of the neighbourhood. Before they know it they find themselves having to deal with patronising local police captain Doyle (Morgan Freeman), Amanda’s addict mother Helene (Amy Ryan) and two old school police detectives (John Ashton and Ed Harris). Things are, of course, not what they seem.
Affleck as writer (with Aaron Stockard) and director is a revelation. Gone Baby Gone is a work of relentless, scuzzy, indubitable tone and style that suggests that Affleck the actor may just have been taking notes over the last decade and a half. With its dense, dark script so full of slang, alliteration and allusion (which owes a debt to my much of the writing on brilliant TV series The Wire, on which Lehane was one of the team of writers), fantastic performances and intuitive direction Gone Baby Gone evokes Paul Schrader’s overlooked 1979 underworld drama Hardcore and the early, less rigidly formalised work of Gus van Sant.
The husband and wife team at the centre of Gone Baby Gone gives this film a strange but compelling dynamic and even when the film begins to crack under the weight of a ridiculous denouement there are enough interesting questions about the morality of the decisions we make to keep one thinking and watching.
General release from Fri 6 Jun.