Gone Baby Gone

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Rating: R

Casey Affleck as Patrick Kenzie
Michelle Monaghan as Angie Gennaro
Morgan Freeman as Capt. Jack Doyle
Ed Harris as Det. Remy Bressant
John Ashton as Detective Nick Poole
Amy Ryan as Helene McCready
Amy Madigan as Bea McCready
Titus Welliver as Lionel McCready
Michael K. Williams as Devin
Edi Gathegi as Cheese
Mark Margolis as Leon Trett
Madeline O’Brien as Amanda McCready
Slaine as Bubba Rogowski
Trudi Goodman as Roberta Trett
Matthew Maher as Corwin Earle

Special Features:
Commentary by: Director/writer Ben Affleck and writer Aaron Stockard
Extended ending
Deleted scenes with optional commentary by writer/director Ben Affleck and writer Aaron Stockard
Going Home: Behind the Scenes with Ben Affleck
Capturing Authenticity: Casting Gone Baby Gone

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish and French Language
Spanish and French Subtitles
Running Time: 114 Minutes

The following is from the DVD cover:

“Based on the novel by Mystic River author Dennis Lehane, Gone Baby Gone marks the directorial debut of actor Ben Affleck. Featuring a solid cast that includes Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman, and Afflecks brother Casey in the lead role as a private detective, Gone Baby Gone centers on the disappearance of a young girl in the working class neighborhood of Dorchester in South Boston. With plenty of twists and turns, the movie works as a solid crime thriller, but its as a study of a place–and ones ability to either accept and embrace or ultimately break free from it–that the film flowers.”

“Gone Baby Gone” is rated R for violence, drug content and pervasive language

The Movie:
The Boston of Dennis Lehane (“Mystic River”) is a disturbing place, not filled with shadows so much as grey zones that can suck a man’s soul out of him without him even knowing it’s happened. It’s this feeling of dreaded ambiguity – where even doing the right thing is wrong – that is essential to the tone of Lehane’s work, and it’s a tone that first-time director Ben Affleck creates and holds on to with surprising ease in his adaptation of “Gone Baby Gone,” creating one of the most memorable recent crime films we’ve had.

The fourth book featuring Lehane’s recurring private investigators, Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan), “Gone Baby Gone” covers a lot of well-trod ground – it’s getting impossible not to in crime fiction – but as with most things the devil is in the details. “How do you live in this world, and still be good enough to go to heaven,” Kenzie wonders, and Lehane and the Affleck brothers spend the rest of the film trying to figure that out. The result is absolutely gripping.

Hired by a grieving aunt to find a missing child, Kenzie and Gennaro soon find themselves in a classic twisty crime plot, as lies are uncovered, motivations change, and the bedrock of their world becomes quicksand under their feet. But what really makes “Gone Baby Gone” work is how surprisingly little attention it gives its plot (though it is by no means simple), instead focusing on its characters, particularly Kenzie, and how they feel about everything they’re experiencing. This is Affleck’s (Casey, that is) film, there are no two ways about it, even when sharing a large amount of time with Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman, and he carries it with style and charisma. Kenzie is soulful, hurt, wounded, skeptical, guilty, shameful, brave, honest and true, all at the same time and in Affleck’s hands it all seems completely real.

Like all of Lehane’s books, “Gone Baby Gone” is set in Boston, and director Affleck brings his world to life as surely as Casey does with his character. Affleck’s Boston is no stylized land of gangsters and psychopaths, but a more disturbing real hometown, filled with all the foibles human beings are born with. He never overplays his hand, always letting the characters and words speak for themselves without any need to twist the knife. Kenzie’s raid on a house, looking for a wanted pedophile, is probably the high point of the film, and both Afflecks pull it off with style.

The downside of focusing so heavily on Kenzie, however, is that most of the other characters are not given a great deal to do. Michelle Monaghan’s Gennaro stands in the back a lot, not saying much at all when she’s on screen, and Freeman’s screen time is unfortunately brief. It wouldn’t be so bad if Gennaro wasn’t supposed to be so obviously crucial to Kenzie’s moral dilemma, but she is, and her lack of presence does hurt the film a little. The plot also meanders quite a bit in the middle, focusing more on the character’s inner turmoil than the outside world, before coming round in the end, and impatient viewers might find themselves squirming waiting for something to happen. Rest assured though, “Gone Baby Gone” more than rewards a patient viewer.

The Extras:
The bonus features on this DVD are fairly standard. You have you usual commentary by director/writer Ben Affleck and writer Aaron Stockard, a “making of” video, and a featurette on the casting of the film. There are about 6 deleted scenes, one of which is the advertised “extended ending”. This extended ending is nothing more than a little narrative dialogue at the end of the film with Casey Affleck’s character. It is minor to the point where you practically can’t tell what’s different.

The Bottom Line:
A tense meditation on morality in the modern world, “Gone Baby Gone” is a superb crime thriller featuring a star performance from Casey Affleck. If crime drama is your thing, it really doesn’t get much better than this.