Gone Baby Gone

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Year: 2007

writer: Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard (screenplay), Dennis Lehane (novel)

Director: Ben Affleck

$19 million (estimated)

Gross: $18 407 770 (as of November 18th 2007)

remember when ben affleck and matt damon won the academy award for best original screenplay for Good Will Hunting back in 1997?  they were on top of the hollywood world, and although they were best friends they took slightly different paths after that.

damon has shown himself to be one hell of an actor with brilliant turns in films like The Talented Mr Ripley and has really tried to find varied roles from comedy to drama to action (the Oceans movies, the Bourne movies, Syriana and The Departed to name a few.  affleck on the other hand tried to turn himself into the next new breed of non-muscle bound action star in the vain of tom cruise, harrison ford, nicholas cage and the like.  he did frankenhiemer's Reindeer Games, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, The Sum Of All Fears, Daredevil and Paycheck (sure he did other stuff as well, but this is a general pattern we are looking at here).

anyway, all that to say i have been much more impressed with damon in the last 10 years on the acting front. but when it comes to directing, affleck is the better of the duo so far.  sure, so damon hasn't directed a movie yet, but affleck has, and it was really good.  i am of course talking about, Gone Baby Gone.

staring his brother, casey affleck, as well as morgan freeman and ed harris, Gone Baby Gone is the story of a private investigator (affleck) hired by the aunt and uncle of a missing girl, to help find her.  the film is based on the novel by dennis lehane, who also wrote Mystic River, and the film has that same close-community-people-hiding-secrets thing going on.

and it is those people and the descisions they make that are the most interesting part of this film. sure there are some twists and turns and big 'reveals' but if affleck was to just rely on those the film would have failed.  partly because some of them are a little predictable and partly because the depth of character and story that keeps you interested and has you thinking after the lights have gone up is what makes the film stand above what it would have been otherwise. 

affleck's character makes some hard descisions at a couple points throughout the movie and i couldn't help wondering what i would have done in those situations.  the film doesn't do the whole black and white thing, but instead actually lets you hang out in the gray and see what you think.

casey affleck was the star of another film i talked about a while back called Lonesome Jim, directed by steve buscemi.  while i thought he was pretty good in that film, i do think that he is better in this one - although he has this plain-expressionless-and-emotionless affect that makes him seem almost bored at times.

nonetheless Gone Baby Gone is a good film that deserves your attention throughout, because there are points when it seems like it is going to go one way and disappoint, yet instead it keeps going, digs a little deeper and ends up being quite satisfying.  affleck has made a much better film as director then most of the stuff he has been in as an actor.