Gone Baby Gone
Wednesday, 9.35pm, RTÉ One
No one was more surprised than the critics when Ben Affleck’s (below) directorial debut turned out to be so good, given his acting talents had proved so hit (Good Will Hunting) and miss (Pearl Harbor). It stars his younger brother, Casey (above), and the Afflecks find their strengths in this adaptation of the novel by Dennis Lehane.
Casey stars as private investigator Patrick Kenzie who, with his girlfriend and partner, Angela Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan), are called in by the aunt and uncle of a missing four-year-old girl whose mother walks a fine line between her maternal instincts and her need for alcohol and cocaine. Patrick is from the neighbourhood, a poor Irish-american community in Boston, Massachusetts, and the relatives want him to talk to the locals who won’t talk to the police.
It’s a film of two halves, with the investigation tracking Patrick’s relationship with both sides of the law - criminals and cops. He and Angie face a series of painful decisions throughout the film, and it is a difficult and challenging ride to the truth. As they dig and dig, not always liking what they find, both – especially Patrick – must work hard to maintain their moral integrity.
As with all films dealing with crimes against children, it will not be suitable for all viewers (and there is plenty of gritty language, too). Above all, though, Affleck’s film asks the audience to make a decision on right or wrong, which is not as black and white as it should be. A brave move, and the mark of a good – potentially, great – film-maker.
The story behind the film
Gone Baby Gone is one of three film adaptations of books by bestselling author Dennis Lehane, released in between Mystic River (2003) and Shutter Island (2010). It is the fourth novel featuring private investigators Kenzie and Gennaro. Ben Affleck, meanwhile, was to prove that Gone Baby Gone was no fluke, directing and starring in another critically acclaimed crime film, The Town, released in 2010.