Gone Baby Gone

By Gerald Aaron, June 6, 2008

(15) Eleven years ago, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon won the best screenplay Oscar for Good Will Hunting. Since then, Damon has established himself as the thinking man’s James Bond in the Bourne thrillers, whereas Affleck’s acting career faltered, reaching its nadir with the dreadful Gigli. Now, on the evidence of this riveting thriller, Affleck has finally found his true métier, which is not actor, but director. Gone Baby Gone is an impressive piece of work, particularly for a tyro directorial effort, atmospherically photographed on well-chosen Boston locations by cinematographer John Toll and showcasing a magnificent performance by the director’s brother, Casey Affleck.

Casey Affleck (right) turns in a strong performance as a private eye hunting for Amy Madigan's missing child

Casey, who was Oscar-nominated for his performance in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, is superb playing private detective Patrick Kenzie, who, with his partner Angie Genarro (Michelle Monaghan), is hired by a working-class husband and wife (Titus Welliver and Amy Madigan) to find their kidnapped four-year-old niece. They work alongside the police investigation led by Remy (Ed Harris, in a searing portrayal sadly diluted by his highly unconvincing hairpiece) and Doyle, a characterisation given immense appeal by Morgan Freeman. The plot is complex, and the direction does not always succeed in making the narrative entirely clear, (the well-intended flashbacks do not always help). But Gone Baby Gone is a forceful film noir which is never less than compelling and its climax and accompanying moral dilemma pack a potent dramatic punch.

Last updated: 2:59pm, February 18 2011