Sunday, October 21, 2007

"Gone Baby Gone"

"Oh no girl, don't do it!"

My wife and I looked over at the person sitting next to us in the theatre, an expression of shock and disgust on our faces. Besides destroying our movie-going experience, this idiotic person clearly missed the whole point of the climax of the wonderful new film, "Gone Baby Gone".

I'll come back to this, but first let me say that if you go see "Gone Baby Gone" and manage not to find yourself sitting beside a really stupid "movie yeller", and you also manage to not sit in front of an older woman who constantly kicks your stadium seat, this is a thoroughly enjoyable film (I only mention that the woman behind me was older because she really, really should have known better, as compared to some fifteen-year-old punk who thinks it's funny).

Adapted from the superb book of the same title by Dennis Lehane, the film stars the impressive Casey Affleck as Patrick Kenzie, a local Boston PI who is hired by the distraught aunt and uncle (Amy Madigan and Titus Welliver) of a kidnapped girl to join the police investigation. Riding shotgun with Kenzie is his girlfriend, Angie Gennaro, played by a rather limp Michelle Moynahan. Angie is hesitant to take the case because she predicts an unhappy ending, but Patrick remembers the girl's mother (Helene, played by an awesome Amy Ryan) from growing up, and thinks he might be able to help.

The two eventually sign up and are teamed up with two condescending police officers (scene chewing Ed Harris and the under-appreciated John Ashton, of Beverly Hills Cop fame) by police chief Jack Doyle (an overacting Morgan Freeman), and using Patrick's neighborhood connections the kidnapping comes to a quick climax. But not everything is how it seems, and since he's a perfectly drawn noir detective, Patrick is simply too stubborn to let things go.

Though there are some problems that arise with the transition of the book to film, director Ben Affleck does a wonderful job of recreating Lehane's world, a place where nothing is black and white. And this brings me back to the climax, and that stupid movie yeller sitting next to me. There are some choices we make that can't be classified by right or wrong. Some decisions you just make, and then live with for the rest of your life. And unless you're George Bush or the woman sitting next to me in the theatre, the choice is not an easy one.

Exploring the gray that inhabits us all, "Gone Baby Gone" is a definite hit that I guarantee you'll talk about for days after, and Casey Affleck is a star in the making.


Church Lady said...

I can't wait to see it. You did a fantastic job of describing it without giving away the ending!

Maya Reynolds said...

Jonathan: Thanks for sharing your take on the film.

I was uneasy walking into the theater because I wasn't certain about Ben Affleck as a director. But he did a very credible job. It's not "Mystic River," but the "Gone, Baby, Gone" book wasn't as well written as "Mystic River" either. For some reason, the plot holes were more obvious to me in the film than I remember them being in the book.

Casey Affleck was the big surprise for me. I was fully prepared to dislike him as Patrick Kenzie, but found myself really impressed by his performance.

I agree Michelle Moynahan was limp, but I thought the role was written that way. She had NOTHING to do but follow Patrick around and whine periodically.

I was pleased to see Ed Harris working with his wife Amy Madigan. I've liked both of them for a long time.

We're going to see "Bella" next weekend.

Daniel W. Powell said...

Evening Jonathan,

I blogged about this very topic this weekend, only my experience involved a pack of movie screamers.

I'm seriously considering matinees only. Thanks for all of the information you post here--very helpful.


Jonathan Lyons said...

I agree about Moynahan. Angie in the book is great, but obviously her role got cut in translation.

Church Lady said...

Oh man, I'm cringing! Marty Bass, a weatherman in Baltimore(yeah, it's where I live) just interviewed Ben Affleck. Don't ask me how he got the interview. It was via satellite, but still. Marty kept pointing at Ben Affleck whenever he asked a question.

Everyone is agreeing Casey was fantastic.
I definitely have to see this movie.

Krista Lyons-Gould and Brooke Warner said...


I enjoyed the film and love what you say here about living with decisions. Life is messy, not black or white, or good or bad.

I'm having one problem with this movie. I still can't get the image of the horrible man and the dead boy out of my mind. Definitely reminded me of Mystic River in that way. It sticks with you.