'Gone Baby Gone'

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It’s an oldie but a goodie. I chose this film to review because it’s currently live-streaming on Netflix and it’s one of my favorites.

“Gone Baby Gone,” based on the book by Dennis Lehane, came out in 2007. It was directed by Ben Affleck and stars his brother Casey Affleck, which may leave a bad taste in the mouths of those who don’t like the Afflecks as human beings. But the acting is solid. Michelle Monaghan plays Casey Affleck’s girlfriend and partner in their private investigation business. The real unsung hero in the film is Amy Ryan, who plays the mother of a young girl who suddenly goes missing. Bonus: You also get some Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman – who plays the police chief and father of a 12-year-old murder victim – in this film.

“I know what it feels like to lose a child,” Freeman says in the movie. “This child is all I care about. We’re going to bring her home.”

Well, turns out Freeman has more information in his back pocket than he’s letting on to the private investigators.

Amy Ryan’s character Helene is a bad mother, a drug user, a drug supplier and an alcoholic. When her daughter goes missing, fingers point to the drug dealers and other shady characters on the periphery around her life. Affleck and Monaghan are able to get some inside information from the Boston neighborhood Helene lives in because they grew up in the area and have a little more street cred than the cops.

Casey Affleck shows his chops as a solid actor in one of his first movies as a leading man. It has a lot to do with the writing, which has a lot to do with Lehane’s novel upon which the movie was based.

I like this movie a lot – in fact, I own a DVD copy of it and have watched it several times. There are some disturbing images, which is to be expected in a suspense film. But it’s a story well told and it keeps the viewer guessing until the very end.

It’s hard to explain how good this movie is without giving away the ending, but it’s definitely not what anyone expected.

It’s difficult to watch movies about missing children, or those who may have been harmed in some way. It’s difficult for filmmakers to tell these stories in a way that isn’t cheap and overdramatized, like a Lifetime movie. “Gone Baby Gone” takes some ugly subject matter and tells a story in an intelligent way. You can’t take your eyes off it; you’ll be thinking about it for days after you watch it.

It also touches on the fascinating subject of why good cops sometimes do things like plant evidence in order to protect a child. What would you do? There’s morals and ethics, and then there’s making sure a child isn’t in the hands of a monster. It’s gotta be tough for a police officer to do the right thing – or even to know what the right thing is.

And oddly enough, even though I know the outcome of this movie, I can watch it over and over. It’s just as good every time.

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