One of the hallmarks I hold for determining the greatness of a film is whether or not I can't stop thinking about the movie after I've seen it.
I laughed for weeks when I'd recall certain scenes from Borat, and I talked with an unusual accent for more than a couple of days after seeing Fargo. Schindler's List moved me in ways I can't adequately describe, but I remember walking around in a bit of a stupor during the weekend after I caught the flick. Movies just effect me in dramatic fashion, particularly when they are great.
And Gone Baby Gone is great.
Adapted from a novel written by Dennis Lehane (who also wrote Mystic River), Gone Baby Gone is co-written and directed by Ben Affleck. The film is Affleck's first as a director, and he delivers a movie that is complex, honest and riveting. Affleck portrays Boston's neighborhoods and culture almost as a character in this film; as a result, Gone Baby Gone is a suspenseful thriller with all the twists and turns, but is grounded so completely that it connects on a realistic level with the audience.
Casey Affleck, the younger brother of Ben, plays private detective Patrick Kenzie. Kenzie is a neighborhood guy, a private dick who knows everyone and often uses those relationships to carry out his work. He and his associate/girlfriend Angie, played by Michelle Monaghan, get by mostly on finding deadbeats for creditors. After a young girl is discovered missing in his neighborhood, Kenzi reluctantly becomes involved. The decisions he makes as he works to find the missing girl--and the outcomes and aftermath of those decisions--is the real meat of this movie.
I can't go into the decisions for fear of giving away the plot twists. But I can say with certainty that after seeing this film, you'll find yourself debating Kenzie's decisions for days.
Baby also is remarkable in how it illustrates our current disconnect from children. Quietly, it reminds us that we adults have become too often obsessed with our own lives and the needs we have--or think we have--that our own children become something less important. Inconvienences, maybe. Something that gets in the way of our having those needs met.
This aspect is chillingly portrayed in the film, and sometimes even hard to watch.
In addition to the remarkable directorial debut of Affleck, the acting in Gone Baby Gone is terrific. Casey Affleck's performance is one of the best I've seen all year, and worthy of recognition at award time. The supporting cast, including Monaghan, Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman, also give top-rate performances.
I keep wanting to talk about this movie! If you see it, send me an email and tell me what you thought.