STUDIO: Miramax
MSRP: $29.98
RUNNING TIME: 114 Minutes

  • Thought-Provoking Ending
  • Deleted Scenes With Commentary
  • Going Home: Behind the Scenes with Ben Affleck
  • Capturing Authenticity: Casting Gone Baby Gone
  • Audio Commentary By Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard

The Pitch

A girl goes missing and a pair of fresh-faced private investigators join the case, one which is not exactly as it seems.

The Humans

Director: Ben Affleck

Writer: Ben Affleck, Aaron Stockard, Dennis Lehane (novel)

Cinematographer: John Toll

Cast: Casey Affleck. Michelle Monaghan. Morgan Freeman. Ed Harris. Amy Ryan. John Ashton. Titus Welliver.

“How did I meet my wife? Echolocation.”

The Nutshell

Affleck’s tale of gritty Boston crime is a sober and “warts and all”
look at primarily the Dorchester part of the city where the working
class rules and everyone inhabits the gray area. As opposed to Mystic River
by the same author, this film is more straightforward as an
entertainment but the filmmakers and cast take what could have very
easily been a very lightweight film and create something quite special.

The Lowdown

Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck, matching his Jesse James
performance) and his associate Angie Gennaro (the lovely Michelle
Monaghan) are visited by the relatives of little Amanda MacCready, a
child who has recently gone missing. Despite their concerns about such
a dark and potentially shattering case, the agree to meet the child’s
trashy mother (The Wire‘s Amy
Ryan, deservedly nominated for her work here). The woman is a microcosm
of everything that’s wrong in parenting, selfish and foul and
undeserving of such a cute and healthy young girl. The kind of person
to use the attention for her own gains.

But still, they agree to help and in turn enter a mire that threatens to infect them all with its darkness and deceit.

[Mustache Induced Laughter]              [Mustache Induced Reality]

The typical mystery/thriller would focus on the whodunit aspect of the story, but Gone Baby Gone
is more interested in the characters that populate the nooks and
crannies of Boston’s low-rent underworld. The mystery is an
afterthought. Figuring out the secrets isn’t a great challenge. The
beauty is in the telling and the performances and the sense of reality
in the film. There’s not a location that seems fabricated and the way
Affleck and the phenomenal John Toll shoot the film is the ideal way to
approach the material. There’s no showing off. Everything is onscreen
and some truly talented people are able to deliver the goods without
any visual subterfuge. It’s amazing that a guy like Affleck, unjustly
maligned in my eyes, has such a lucid and old school approach to the
directorial chair. It would have been much more simple to just invest
the film with the gloss and vacancy of a James Patterson adaptation,
but because of the casting and approach the film rises above some
admittedly uninspiring thriller material. There are simply too many
kidnapping films and television episodes out there for a subpar effort
to shine without some really special ingredients. Luckily the
film is split
into a few sections that take the audience into places atypical to the
genre, shifting focus from one case to something entirely different
which may or may not have a connection. But everything goes back to the cast and a few really memorable scenes.

“I know you know I just shit myself, but how MUCH did I just shit myself?”

Casey Affleck, Ed Harris, John Ashton, Amy Ryan, and Titus Welliver are  so terrific here that Gone Baby Gone
is a scant few inches from being a truly great movie. As it stands,
it’s still a very good one. Casey Affleck has truly become a capable
leading man and is surprisingly effective when asked to match intensity
with some really intimidating and dangerous sorts and if he hadn’t
risen to the challenge the film would have felt like a student project
with A-List production values. Affleck squares off a character named
Cheese (Edi Gathegi) in a really phenomenal scene early in the film and
coupled with an earlier near-skirmish in a seedy bar [complete with
blurry Ben Affleck cameo!] it really sells both Affleck and Patrick as
capable protagonists to take this journey with. When paired with the
tandem of Ed Harris and John Ashton as two weary but tough cops, it’s a
very engaging trio. Sadly, Morgan Freeman doesn’t really have a lot to
offer here, though he’s certainly solid.

Amy Ryan is on fire here, cursing like a Tourette’s-afflicted sailor
and loving every minute of it, digging deep into the white trash skin
of Helene MacCready. Her wars of words with Amy Madigan and Titus
Welliver (a revelation here despite his good work on Deadwood) are
hilarious and sad, and her presence throughout the film anchors it
narratively and spiritually. The theme of parenting and responsibility
are so prominent here that if Ryan were unable to portray both the hope
and the hopelessness of the situation, the denouement [pretentious word
alert!] would have absolutely no effect.

Casey Affleck was Chamber’s personal bodyguard through the lean years.

It’s a muscular and classy blue collar crime
tale that’ll lure you in with the grace and effortless work of the cast
but ultimately dig in deeper thanks to some really strong work from an
unlikely filmmaker that leaves the weaker aspects of the story behind
as minor bumps in the road on the way to a very worthwhile movie

I was a fan of Ben Affleck before. Now I’m hoping he gets his ass back to work, stat.

The Package

a horrible tobacco advertisement that launches the moment the DVD
starts, and unfortunately, the “thought-provoking alternate ending”
advertised in the packaging isn’t all that stupendous but

otherwise this is a really nice little DVD package. Ben Affleck and his
co-writer deliver a nice informative commentary track both on the
feature and the deleted scenes and it’s interesting to hear him talk so
passionately and confidently about the film, especially with a softer
almost whisper-like voice unlike his leading man voice I’m used to
hearing in films. It’s a nice change of pace and Aaron Stockard does a
good job of keeping the balance and his director and co-writer on

The deleted scenes are also good but their omission makes sense,
especially in cases where the plotting becomes a little less

The featurettes are short but engaging enough to warrant their
inclusion and all in all the DVD is a tasteful and respectful effort
from Miramax, a studio known for being all over the map in how it
approaches home video. The excellent one-sheet art is retained but not
without the obligatory floating heads.

Still, there’s a lot to like here and Affleck is a terrific commentary host

8.6 out of 10