Saturday, 7 June 2008

Gone Baby Gone

After the past several years pursuing a truly egregious career as a naff male lead in a series of critically panned turkeys such as 2003's Gigli and Surviving Christmas, people had begun to forget the promise Ben Affleck showed early in his career. Back in 1997, he co-wrote and starred alongside childhood friend Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, for which the duo won an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Where did it all go wrong?

Well, after being somewhat eclipsed by his old Boston buddy and writing partner in recent years, Affleck has undergone a career revival in the past couple of years with the well received George Reeves biopic Hollywoodland, and now this, his co-written directorial debut Gone Baby Gone. The film was out in October 2007 in the Us, but delayed for release here in the UK for several months due to it's somewhat superficial similarities to the case of missing child Madeline McCann which has dominated tabloid headlines here in the past year.

So is it any good, despite sharing the same name as a Gnarls Barclay tune? Well, surprisingly, it's excellent. A brilliant performance by brother Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan, a couple who work as private investigators, and are enlisted by a distressed family to intervene in the search for an abuducted 4 year old girl, who has gone missing in their local neighbourhood in Boston. They uncover a complex and murky plot involving drugs, money, and police corruption where no one is as they seem and not even the family involved can be trusted.

Casey's streetwise Patrick Kenzie is both canny and cool as he confronts drug dealers, neglectful family and ultimately, a corrupt police force in his search for the truth, and a great deal is lost and learned in the search for missing girl Amanda. It's compelling viewing, with a slightly unsatisfying ending, but infinitely much more thought-provoking and worthy than some of the atrocious Hollywood fodder Ben Affleck (case in point: Pearl Harbor) has been involved in during his career. Very enjoyable, intelligent, but ultimately bleak.

Hack Rating 4/5

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