|Gone Baby Gone
Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, John Ashton, Amy Ryan, Amy Madigan, Titus Welliver
|Pulling himself out of the tabloid mire that threatened to swamp him during his relationship with Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck is on a roll. First, there was his tragic, nuanced performance as the late George "Superman" Reeves in "Hollywoodland," earning critics' accolades and award nominations. But that was just a precursor to Affleck's assured directorial debut "Gone Baby Gone" an engrossing intersection of mystery, drama, crime procedural, and character study that Affleck and co-screenwriter Aaron Stockard adapted from a novel by "Mystic River" author Dennis Lehane. Apparently, Affleck's Oscar for co-writing the script of "Good Will Hunting" was no fluke. In "Gone Baby Gone," 4-year-old Amanda is kidnapped from her single mother's apartment in a rough, working-class Boston-area neighborhood. Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck, Ben's kid brother) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan), a young couple living together and working together as private investigators, are hired by Amanda’s aunt (Amy Madigan) to find the little girl. Patrick and Angie quickly come into conflict with the cops on the case, as well as Amanda's mother (Amy Ryan), various suspects and leads, and, eventually, each other. The film is blessed by terrific work from the entire cast, including Ed Harris as police detective Remy Broussard and Morgan Freeman as his superior officer Jack Doyle, and loads of local color. Affleck, who hails from the area, seems right at home with the story's gritty milieu. The taut, no-nonsense style of his direction recalls the lean, close-to-the-bone approach of fellow actor-turned-director Clint Eastwood and that bodes well for Affleck's continued career behind the camera.