Gone Baby Gone

Watched: 16 September

This is the first time I’ve seen Ben Affleck’s directorial debut since it was on in the cinema. (I say ‘directorial debut’, but that’s discounting his 1993 short I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meathook, and Now I Have a Three Picture Deal at Disney, which I am guessing is probably not worth watching.) As much as I enjoyed Argo I think this is his best film to date, helped immeasurably by the textures of Dennis Lehane’s source novel and very good performances by Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Amy Ryan and Ed Harris. Affleck Jr stars as Patrick Kenzie, a private detective who is quickly established on screen as being both wiser and more confident than his age might suggest. He’s also a native Bostonian who has kept his roots in the neighbourhood of Dorchester, and is therefore well-placed to investigate the disappearance of a young girl who has seemingly been taken as revenge for a drug deal rip-off. The plot isn’t labyrinthine, by any means, but it is convoluted enough to wrongfoot both the viewer and Kenzie on a few occasions while the investigator slowly figures out what has happened. I think the film is well structured, particularly in the way a typical heroic ending is passed over for something far more satisfying, and I like the way the various rescue attempts or interrogations inevitably descend into violence (sometimes tragically), as if no-one is in control of the situation or their reactions to events. Its warmth toward the people of Dorchester is a major feature, too, which helps to lift it above and beyond the police procedural pack. (****)

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