Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan
Two Boston area detectives investigate a little girl's kidnapping, which ultimately turns into a crisis both professionally and personally. Based on the Dennis Lehane novel.
Ben Affleck proves his directing credentials in this gripping dramatic thriller, drawing strong performances from the excellent cast and bringing working-class Boston to the screen.
  • 19 Oct 2007 Released:
  • 13 Feb 2008 DVD Release:
  • $20.3M Box office:

All subtitles:


A masterpiece10/10
Every once in a while, amid the dross that reviewers have to sit through, comes a movie that hits like a sucker punch to the gut and haunts you long after you've left the theater. Such is the case with Gone Baby Gone.

Based on the book by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River), Gone Baby Gone marks the directorial debut of Ben Affleck, who also penned the screenplay in tandem with Aaron Stockard, and easily puts him at the front of the line for Oscar contention.

Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan star as a pair of private investigators based in the rough working class Dorchester district of Boston. The two are hired by the family of a missing four-year-old girl to assist the police investigation because of their street connections and ability to get people to talk who otherwise would never open up to a cop. As they navigate through the neighborhood's seamy underbelly of pimps, drug dealers and crack whores they uncover an ever-expanding mystery that takes on the added dimension of provoking the question of just what is right and what is wrong, firmly pitting both story and viewer in a struggle between situational ethics and moral absolutes.

Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris round out an impressive cast, but it's the younger Affleck who takes this movie on his back and runs with it, easily surpassing his director brother in terms of acting breadth and range. This is no slight to Ben, however. It's been a long time since I was this impressed with a directorial debut, and even longer since I was given cause to reflect upon the values that we hold dear as individuals and a society, and the moral foundations upon which they are based. Gone Baby Gone manages both, and wraps it up in a hard-hitting detective story that serves as much to satisfy the baser urges of bar fights and gun play, as it does tackling bigger issues.

It's also one of those rare movies in which it can easily be said that the less you know about the story going in, the richer the experience. There's no clear twist ending to give away, but rather a layered story that unfolds like a Russian stacking doll with a moral dilemma at its core.

One thing I do feel comfortable revealing, however, is that this movie comes about as close as any can to being a bonafide lock come Academy Award time. Congrats Ben, you may well have redeemed yourself from your J-Lo/Gigli reputation at last.
Ben Affleck crafts a disturbing emotional adaptation.10/10
After a decade of critically disgraced performances and brutal public humiliation year after year, Ben Affleck took a well deserved break from the Hollywood scene. This year he came back, but instead of taking the spotlight by starring in a film, he went behind the scenes and opted to direct his first feature film. Taking an example from another actor turned director, a little independent man named Clint Eastwood, he decided to adapt a novel written by Mystic River author Dennis Lehane. On the surface, Gone Baby Gone tells the story of a missing child and the two private investigators who are hired to find her. The story transforms into a highly disturbing tale of selfish, terrifying characters and the fact that no matter what people never change.

In deciding who to play the leading role of the intelligent, reserved, moral and slightly naive Patrick Kenzie, Ben looked no further than his brother Casey. Initially this may seem like a bad idea with lots of sibling tension on the set, but the decision couldn't have been a better one. After years of under-the-radar brilliance, Casey gets to show his acting genius in the leading role of a powerful, emotionally drenching work. I love the fact that everyone is finally getting to see what a true wonder this young actor is, with talent greater than the majority of actors I've ever seen no matter what their age. He's getting a large amount of critical recognition for his flawless turn in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, but he is almost as exceptional in this one. Counterbalancing Kenzie is his mature and equally intelligent partner and lover, Angie Gennaro played by the beautiful Michelle Monaghan. The two of them grew up on the streets of Boston and therefore are pursued to use their relationships with the criminals involved to help find the men who kidnapped this little girl. This leads the audience on a highly engaging and very disturbing journey through the lowest forms of scum in the Boston population and a climax that is just as surprising as it is haunting.

The second half starts with another missing person's case and Kenzie discovers something that forces him to bring back Detective Remy Bressant (Ed Harris), a character who he didn't end on the best of terms with in the first act. In an act of high tension and in the face of an ultimate evil, Kenzie makes a decision that he immediately regrets and is the first time he really matures in the film and falls into a moral crisis as he witnesses the true personalities of those around him and re-evaluates everything in his life. A conversation with Bressant soon after this act provides a stage for Ed Harris' remarkable display of talent in one of his career best performances. However a revelation Kenzie makes during this conversation leads us into an even darker world of corruption within the police, back to the victims of the original crime and a lesson that sometimes the most morally righteous can people can do terrifying things if they believe it is for the greater good.

Another stirring revelation leads Affleck to the film's second big twist that I didn't see coming from a mile away. He finds moral corruption, again 'for the greater good', in the most unexpected place and is led to one of the most arduous and unimaginable decisions I've ever seen put on film. I won't spoil anything, but it's safe to say that this was the first and only time I've ever put myself in the shoes of a character on screen and wondered what I would do in his situation. It's a decision I don't think I could ever make, and one of the most painful scenes of the year. Watching Affleck's expression and the pain in his eyes is truly gutwrenching. In his decision we eventually see that even in the most emotionally straining situations and no matter how much they say they will, people never change. I found that to be the final moral of the film, and the ending was haunting, cathartic and emotionally painful as we see Kenzie living with the fact that maybe his decision was the wrong one but he still tries to do the morally just thing in the end.

Ben Affleck has come back strong to the Hollywood scene by avoiding public humiliation and realizing that the film would be miles superior if he directed instead of starred in it. There is one minor flaw in this feature, and that is that it felt to me like three different films. There are two clear cut endings, but the film picks back up afterwards on the road to the final conclusion. With each new story comes depth and disturbance from the characters and overall plot, so one can easily ignore this very minuscule flaw. His casting was flawless from the stunning magnificence of Casey Affleck to the Oscar-worthy Ed Harris to the critically praised grieving mother Amy Ryan. Gone Baby Gone is certainly one of the best films this year, and I hope it's not forgotten come awards season, particularly in the form of it's reborn director and flawless leading man (as well as the rest of this multi-talented cast). A deeply disturbing and thoroughly engaging picture that is sure to stay on my mind for days.
I was surprised at this movie being so good10/10
Being retired I have all the time in the world to do what pleases me. And seeing movies pleases me a lot, so much that I see almost everything, good, regular, bad and really baaaad. Seeing a movie for me is being at the cinema showing it, paying for my ticket, and I hardly ever watch a movie in TV, direct or recorded. This means that in order to keep up with my statement of seeing almost everything I go to see movies a minimum of five and a maximum of seven days per week, and some days I attend several movies (this is not an exaggeration), meaning that I do get to see 250 to 300+ movies every year.

Today, 10/20/07 I was trying to decide what to see and Gone Baby Gone was not in my menu, as even though I go so often to the movies I had not seen any trailer for this movie nor heard anything about it. Perusing the newspaper the synopsis attracted me and I decided to see it. As Gone Baby Gone progressed I found myself being really pull into the story, living it together with the characters, through the splendid direction, editing and camera work. As the movie ended I thought to myself: "This is why you go see so many bad and regular movies, so you will not miss the occasional good one and the rare excellent movie".

"Gone Baby Gone" is easily the best movie I have seen this year. And that includes most of the art, foreign or indie movies that I also attend religiously. Unless something out of this world comes out in the next six weeks, this is my candidate for the Oscar to the best picture and Ben Affleck should also be nominated for best Director.
Great Baby Great9/10
When I went into the theater to see Gone Baby Gone, Casey Affleck was not what I pictured when I read Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie novels. But he won me over and will now forever be Kenzie as far as I'm concerned.

Gone Baby Gone is a tough and gritty movie about a child abduction and the lives it destroys. You can see the end coming a little too early in the movie, but it's still fascinating watching Kenzie slog through a lot of awful stuff before you get there. Ben Affleck has proved that he can direct a movie with the best of them. There was nothing slack or boring for the entire running time, and the ending will give you something to argue about over dinner after watching the movie.

The best detective movie I've seen in a while.
When Keeping It Real Goes Right10/10
I would consider myself to be a movie buff and I live and grew up in Massachusetts. I must tell you that Ben Affleck has done an outstanding job in his directorial debut. In casting his brother Casey you may think that it's just nepotism or giving his brother a break. No. He is the absolute perfect person to play this role. Because they know the area they have made one of the most authentic movies I've ever seen. And it's not just some Boston movie either. I heard a woman as I was leaving saying it's just like The Departed. No it's not, it's much better and the fact is, I loved The Departed. But that was flashier. As great as it was you could tell people were acting. Not here. They seemed exactly like the degenerates and handful of decent folk I see every day of my life. The woman who plays the girl's mother, I don't know who see is, but I've met her about 1000 times.

As far as the story goes I'd never spoil it for you but it's complex, not confusing. There is a lot going on and it's so real. I don't know what's happened in this area but people have become so lousy. So lousy that if you're a good person you just don't know what can be done anymore. There seems to be no answer sometimes and this film is set in that world. If you have the brains and heart to try you don't even know what will come of it.

Who should see this? Intelligent people. People who want to come out of a movie thinking about what they just saw. People who want to see an incredibly well made film. And anyone who ever liked Ben Affleck even for half a second. He should be very proud of this movie. As far as content there are loads of curse words, some drug use, but no nudity that I can remember, and there is some gun violence, but nothing too bad. Put it high on your movie going list.