Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Retro Review: Gone Baby Gone

Hello Internet!

*Warning: Minor spoilers abound!*

Boy do I love a great thriller.  Lucky for me Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone is one of the best I have ever seen.  Somehow this fantastic 2007 film slipped past me for all these years.  I absolutely loved Affleck's sophomore effort, 2010s The Town, and decided to check out his debut film.  Needless to say I was absolutely blown away by every aspect of this well-crafted crime thriller.

To call Gone Baby Gone a crime thriller feels like an disservice to the film.  At its surface GBG is about a missing child and the private detectives hired to assist the Boston Police Department in searching for her whereabouts.  GBG goes way further into the rabbit hole than that basic plot.  As a matter of fact that specific plot line seems to have been wrapped up not halfway through the film's sleek two-hour run time (only to have been brought full-circle by the finale).  A great thriller keeps you guessing at every turn and GBG does it effortlessly.  The narrative is not nearly as straightforward as it seems; at the surface the relatively simple missing child plot turns into a kidnapping story mixed with corruption and conspiracy.  Its truly a sigh to behold and had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.  I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen from scene to scene, let alone how the film was going to conclude.  I may not exactly have liked how the narrative played out but that's part of the mystery of these types of films.

Affleck has quite a knack for crafting real characters in a real world.  In both of his films both the pro-and antagonists feel very, very real.  Gone Baby Gone has one of the best ensemble casts I've ever seen on film.  Every single actor embodies their character and makes me forget that Amy Ryan was Michael Scott's love interest on The Office, that Titus Welliver was The Man in Black on Lost, or that Casey Affleck was one half of the always-arguing brothers in the Ocean's films.  I could do that for every actor in the film.  Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Michelle Monaghan - all are absolutely fantastic.  The supporting cast is excellent as well.  All of these characters interact in a very real world. 

I felt dirty after watching GBG.  I could feel the grime and dirt of the slums of Boston.  Just as in The Town the setting of the film feels like a character in and of itself.  And not necessarily because of the cinematography (which was great as well) but by how the characters speak and interact.  You get a very real sense that they have grown up around each other and, especially Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan's characters, know their way around the city and its seedy underbelly.

As you can tell I am in love with Gone Baby Gone.  I had virtually no expectations going into it, besides the fact that I loved The Town so much.  It truly is a well-crafted thriller with a winding narrative that'll bring you along for the ride and keep you guessing.  I suppose for the eagle-eyed viewers out there you may be able to pick up on certain clues or seemingly throwaway lines that could key you in to the final outcome...but I find it quite doubtful.  I cannot recommend this film enough.

Gone Baby Gone is a truly fantastic film and deserves to be seen.

The Bearded Bullet runs off to practice his Bahstan accent.

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