Gone Baby Gone
I was in a muddle deciding what to write about the new movie “Gone Baby Gone.” I was in a muddle
because the movie is ugly, unpleasant, graphic, and if you have the slightest sensitivity to the f-word, shell-
shock will set in in under 5 minutes. On the other hand, the movie is riveting, suspenseful, clever, and has
a story so powerful you’ll keep thinking of it long after the ending credits.
Based on the book with the same name by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River), written for the screen and
directed by Ben Affleck, showing far more impressive talent than he ever has in front of the camera, “Gone
Baby Gone” chronicles the involvement in a missing person’s case by inexperienced private investigators
Patrick Kenzie (a revelatory Casey Affleck, Ben’s younger brother) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle
Monaghan). Patrick and Angie are lovers as well as partners, and they are hired by Beatrice and Lionel
McCready (Amy Madigan and Titus Welliver) when the couple believes the police aren’t doing enough to
recover their missing 4-year-old niece, Amanda, who vanished from the house while her mother was out
for half an hour.
Special mention must be made of Amy Ryan’s portrayal of Helene McCready, Amanda’s mother. Helene
is neglectful, defiant, and virtually anything but maternal. The viewer dislikes her on sight, and yet her
performance is so nuanced that you do sometimes feel a twinge of sympathy for her.
Most of our sympathy is reserved for Patrick and Angie whose tenacity in pursuing the case is at first
disdained and then taken advantage of by the police involved, played by Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and
John Ashton. Patrick and Angie’s dogged pursuit is at once naïve and insightful, and the case consumes
both them and their relationship.
Like Mystic River, the movie takes place in Boston, and the city is an ominous backdrop to the action, at
once so seedy, grimy, ugly, and hopeless as to all but seep into your pores. Also like Mystic River, the
performances are spellbinding and the characters multi-layered with many shades of gray. As in any good
thriller, all is not as it seems in the beginning, and the script pays the viewer the compliment of being
intelligent yet expecting you to keep things straight without inappropriate recaps.
The ending leaves you wondering what you would have done in a similar predicament, and perhaps not
being certain. You don’t muddle through “Gone Baby Gone” but hold on tight and don’t take your eyes off
of the screen. This movie is definitely not to everyone’s taste, and for those who prefer their heroes and
villains easily discernible and their endings neatly wrapped up, it could prove dissatisfying or even
distressing. For those who enjoy an occasional gritty thought-provoker, however, “Gone Baby Gone” is a
*Heather Craig lives in Davis, California.