Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Genre(s): Crime / Drama / Mystery
Miramax || R - 114 minutes - $29.99 || February 12, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-02-10


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Ben Affleck
Writer(s): Dennis Lehane (novel); Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard (screenplay)
Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, John Ashton, Amy Ryan, Amy Madigan, Titus Welliver


Theatrical Release Date: October 19, 2007


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Audio Commentary
  • Going Home: Behind the Scenes with Ben Affleck
  • Capturing Authenticity: Casting Gone Baby Gone
  • Deleted Scenes


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Right and wrong. Black and white. Unfortunately in life, and in this world, there are rarely absolutes.

Actor-star Ben Affleck moves behind the camera to co-write, produce and direct Gone Baby Gone, based on the same-named novel by Dennis Lehane. When Amanda, a young girl, goes missing, it sets off media frenzy to find the child with the police yielding little evidence to where the child is. Amanda’s family hires Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and his girlfriend, Angie (Monaghan), to ignite the investigation further, to talk with the locals who won’t speak with the authorities since Patrick is one of them. But even he hits some brick walls and as each minute ticks by, the chances of finding Amanda diminishes.

Gone Baby Gone is actor Ben Affleck’s feature film directorial debut, and oh what a debut it is. This haunting suspense-drama is deliberate in its pacing and throughout, Affleck keeps it just off-keel to keep you on your toes, ready for things that you don’t want to see and still at the same time, will shock even the most hardened and veteran of movie-watchers. No, it isn’t a sickening shock or mouth open wide shock, but in my experience it doesn’t happen all too often in modern cinema.

The film stars Ben Affleck’s brother, Casey, who has been in a variety of roles from the successful Ocean’s ensemble movies to Good Will Hunting. As good of an actor as I think Casey Affleck is, even after watching Gone Baby Gone, I’m not quite sure what to make of him. Since he is a Bostonian and has the accent to make his character both believable and credible, I find it hard to discount his performance, yet at the same time, he doesn’t convey a wide array of emotions either. Not from the area, perhaps they don’t wear their feelings on their sleeves. That said, as a lead actor, Casey Affleck is fine in the role and allows a tremendous supporting cast take up what he may lack.

Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman headline the supporting cast, two veteran actors you can’t help but love to see any time they come on the screen. Ed Harris plays up the, let’s say, questionable cop to a “T” while the venerable statesman Morgan Freeman plays a small but not insignificant role as a police captain in charge of finding missing children. Not to be missed is the lovely Michelle Monaghan providing a poignant performance to a part that honestly, was thankless.

Others to watch out for are John Aston (Beverly Hills Cop I & II), Amy Ryan (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) and Titus Welliver (Assault on Precinct 13). Welliver isn’t quite as known as Aston or Ryan and for as much attention as Amy Ryan has received, I think Welliver does an equally fine job in his role.

I won’t talk much about Ben Affleck’s directing style, except to say it was impressive to see him take such a challenging project as his first. This is not some light-hearted drama. Hell, it’s darker than “Without a Trace”. It’s obvious this was a passion for Mr. Affleck, filming in his hometown and using locals not merely as extras, but people who really help develop the story.

Much like Clint Eastwood and Mel Gibson, Ben Affleck shows that he has talent behind the camera and one day, I think could make his living that way if he should ever feel so. I am not one of those who despise Affleck’s acting career as I think he is very talented when given the right script, but to see him in this new light, I hope he pursues a directing career as well.

Gone Baby Gone is based on a novel by Dennis Lehane and adapted by Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard. Interestingly, according to the IMDb, Stockard was previously an assistant on Good Will Hunting and The Talented Mr. Ripley. This is his first credited screenplay.

Lehane also wrote “Mystic River” which also was turned into a fine big screen adaptation and received plenty of award notoriety. It’s easy to say that Gone Baby Gone deserves just as much, especially for Ed Harris for Best Supporting Actor. Unfortunately, that did not happen with Amy Ryan, rightfully so, getting the major acclaim.

Gone Baby Gone isn’t going to be for everybody because this isn’t just a simple who/how-done it and instead when the credits begin to roll, you will be talking about this for hours on end, a selling point for me as so many Hollywood movies take the easy way for the bottom line to make audiences happy. Well, this is not one of those movies...

“Hope begins where the secrets end.”



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Audio Commentary – Co-Writer/director Ben Affleck and co-writer Aaron Stockard provide a somewhat low-key track, though the two point out curse words. Affleck discusses how he wanted to direct it, not choosing a color palette but instead keeping it real. A little strange hearing Affleck without Kevin Smith and the rest of the crew around him...

Going Home: Behind the Scenes with Ben Affleck (7:04) – A nice little featurette expands more on Ben Affleck going behind the camera. It also features interviews with the cast and novelist Dennis Lehane and Affleck himself explains why he chose this project.

Capturing Authenticity: Casting Gone Baby Gone (8:56) – Fluff piece about the casting of certain roles and using real Bostonians. The main cast just talk about their parts while Ben Affleck tells us why each were chosen.

Deleted Scenes (8:56) – Six scenes are included in non-anamorphic widescreen and has an optional commentary with Affleck and Stockard. The scenes themselves aren’t great, save for an extended opening which shows Casey Affleck’s character on the job tailing somebody. The scene was cut short for good reason, but it’s nice to see it here. The other scene of note is an extended ending which utilizes Casey Affleck’s voiceover at the very end, but I prefer the final version.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The movie is presented anamorphic widescreen, 1.85 OAR, and looks very good. Since, as Affleck mentioned in his commentary, the film doesn’t have a real visual palette, this is not a movie that will wow you but is still fine.

Gone Baby Gone features a Dolby Digital 5.1 track along with a Spanish and French tracks. This is a dialogue heavy movie but there are a couple actions scenes but it really kicks in with Harry Gregson-William’s music score cues.



.::OVERALL::.

Don’t go into this movie with the same old Hollywood expectations or even expectations of a first time director, not to mention said director is Ben Affleck. Fear not, Gone Baby Gone is a fine movie and easily one of my favorites of 2007. It features a fantastic supporting cast and an emotional story that will keep the viewer fully engaged.