Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gone Baby Gone

Whilst compiling a list of my ten favourite new release movies of 2008, I realised that there was one that I had somehow failed to comment on in this blog.

At the time I watched it (on my Archos in Belize) the conflict in DR Congo had swolen to bursting point and I recall one hack describing the resulting news footage as 'porno for misanthropes'.

Well, that wouldn't be a bad description of the first half hour or so of Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck's tale of a stolen child which was shelved in the UK for months, thanks to some potential plot similarities with that other pervasive piece of misanthropic porn - the Tapas 7 saga from Praia da Luge...and because of a startling resemblance between the little girl cast here and missing Madeleine McCann.

Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan play Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, two young PIs native to Boston's more necessitous districts. When the daughter of a woman we are invited to contemplate as possibly the world's least suitable single parent is snatched, Patrick and Angie are contracted by the family to cover the underside of the police investigation. They are soon emeshed in a complex narrative - perhaps just a tad too complex - involving assorted thugs, dealers, pervs and bent cops.

I didn't know at the time that these characters feature in a series of novels by Dennis Lehane, so that at the end I was inclined to think that Angie's character was a largely superfluous shadow to Patrick's...until the last section where her true role was revealed - to throw into sharp relief the stance her partner takes when the plot is finally unravelled and together they reach a clear-cut ethical fork in the highway. The choice is straightforward, but the issues are profoundly complex.

There's not much else one can say without emitting spoilers, but suffice to say the younger Affleck is developing into a fine acting talent, while his elder brother is now compensating for comparative weaknesses in this field by demonstrating a strong aptitude for both direction and screenwriting.

Grade: A-

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