Gone Baby Gone.

As I am federally mandated to point out, Gone Baby Gone is the directorial debut of Ben Affleck, a fact that is impossible to overlook while watching the movie. Sometimes I wish I could watch a movie while completely ignorant of its director, but that's another post. Anyway, Affleck clearly cares about this crime drama, both in content and location, and his loving fingerprints mark the film with a unique raw edge.

For a multitude of reasons, Gone Baby Gone can succicntly be described as a light version of Mystic River, which was likewise based on a Dennis Lehane novel. The subject matter is equally heavy and thick, also exploring family dynamics through a painful crime involving a child. Both movies are set in Boston, and the one thing that Gone does better, largely due to Affleck's devotion to his hometown, is capture the seedy bizarreness of the local culture. Beyond that, Gone trails River in every aspect, not to an extent that makes Gone a poor film, but merely a decent one that does not remotely reach the great heights Clint Eastwood achieved four years ago.

First, the story itself is weaker and more transparent, due in slight part to a bit of foreshadowing. The moral waters here are equally murky, but shallower once fully explored. Secondly, the cast is weaker; that's not so much a swipe at a solid troupe includes the always good Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris, but rather reminds how loaded River was with proven, veteran talent (Penn, Robbins, Bacon, Fishbourne, Linney, Harden). The younger faces here, like Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, and (especially) Amy Ryan, acquit themselves well, but they do not possess the gravitas that can make such a film so much better. They are simply in a different league, the NFC versus River's superior AFC. Similarly, Affleck's movie sports an effective rough look and a less effective uneven flow, as opposed to the smooth and polished texture of Eastwood fluid masterpiece. For a first film though, Affleck's end product is impressive and worth watching for fans of the genre.

Bottom Line: Always decent, sometimes quite good, but it's nowhere near Mystic River. 7 out of 10.


the Opinionator said...

i prefer "lite"

Prince of Spades said...

Yeah, I debated which version of the word to use, before deciding that I didn't want the movie sounding like beer. Of course, given the nature of many of the movie's characters, maybe that would have been a better option.