Gone Baby Gone

I’ve made some good headway into planning out my robot noir. At least enough to really get started past the first few paragraphs I’ve already got. The main character, a bitter private detective, is started to shape up in my mind. His interactions with Asta should be fun to write.

Since I haven’t really worked on any exercises lately, I’ll just post this quick little review I wrote for the department newsletter. Normally I’d review something new to theaters, but there hasn’t been anything out that I cared to see, so I went with one that’s new to video. Man alive, it’s five bucks to rent a movie at Blockbuster now. Are they kidding? Glad I have Netflix.

Gone Baby Gone

I’m a big fan of detective stories, by which I mean actual detective stories, none of this CSI nonsense. Private detectives are cynical, widows black, cops corrupted, and morals ambiguous. People should be wearing hats. I rank films like The Maltese Falcon and Out of the Past as some of my favorites.

In Gone Baby Gone, released on video this month, I may have found a new favorite to add to the list. Patrick (Casey Affleck) and his girlfriend Angie (Michelle Monaghan) are private detectives hired to assist the police in the search for a kidnapped little girl. Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman join in as cops begrudgingly accepting the help of the streetwise detectives. Amy Ryan (nominated for an Academy Award for her work here) rounds out the cast as the kidnapped girl’s mother, whom we see from the start isn’t a model parent.

The story takes place almost entirely in the run-down neighborhoods of South Boston. As the investigators go about the search, we meet a variety of scumbags, from angry drunks to murderous drug dealers. None of them can be trusted, and even complete strangers and passersby can turn hostile for little reason. It’s the perfect setting for a classic noir story. Most of the cast and director Ben Affleck are from Boston, and their knowledge of the people, accents, and neighborhoods gives the film a convincing authentic feel.

Ben Affleck, new to directing, does a fantastic job. The mood is consistently tense and dramatic, and he knows when to simply hold the camera still and let the universally excellent performances carry the picture. You won’t see anything mind-blowing, but he serves the story well.

As the movie progresses, the body count begins to rise and Patrick encounters troubling ethical dilemmas. How he reacts and copes with the problems facing him is fascinating, and the film gradually turns from an entertaining procedural drama into a great thought-provoking film. The plot twists come fast and furious in the final half-hour of the film, and the movie really doesn’t slow down to let the audience catch up. If you aren’t paying attention it’s easy to miss something. The films only significant misstep involves Ed Harris’s final scenes, seemingly shoe-horned in as plot convenience rather than a logical event. The ending, however, makes up for it, posing questions to which there are no right or wrong answers.

It’s just a bummer there aren’t more hats.