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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Gone Baby Gone

***** Gone Baby Gone. Drama.

Directed by: Ben Affleck.
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Amy Madigan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Amy Ryan

We saw this at the Hercules back in January, and now it's already out on DVD. Shows you how quickly we get movies here.

Gone Baby Gone is based on the book of the same name (#13) by Dennis Lehane. It's the fourth book in the series, which seems an odd choice to me, but it stood alone as a movie quite well.

Private investigators Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) are hired by a woman (Amy Madigan) to investigate the disappearance of her niece. The little girl's mother (Amy Ryan) is a drug addict who neglects the child. The cops (Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris) warn Kenzie and Gennaro to stay out of their way.

It's a chilling case and full of heart-wrenching twists and turns that still worked even though I was prepared for them by having read the book. And the ending is painful, emotional, and right.

I was initially unsure about the casting--Affleck and Monaghan seemed a lot younger than I remembered Kenzie and Gennaro, but a few minutes into the movie, I was convinced. All the performances were exactly right--to the point where I could forget they were actors playing roles.

One thing that really impressed me--it's a little thing, but it made a big difference in the feel of the movie--was that the extras, the people wandering around on the streets, the people who were briefly interviewed about the little girl's disappearance, were all ordinary-looking people. I didn't realize until watching this how often the "ordinary" people in movies were of a limited number of types, straight from central casting. These weren't. They were the people you'd expect to see walking around a lower-class neighborhood in Boston.

The rest of the atmosphere of the movie was just as impressive--real and convincing. The urban decay wasn't overdone, but it wasn't Hollywood-slick, either.

I'm always a little wary about movies made from favorite books, but in this case, an excellent movie did justice to an exceptional book.

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It's funny how I'm a sucker for movies set in places I'm familiar with -- I sat through the otherwise unremarkable Vision Quest and Benny and Joon just to see glimpses of Riverfront Park in Spokane. On the other hand, Smoke Signals does have a fairly significant scene on one of the pedestrian bridges over the Spokane River, and it's a good movie, to boot.

I keep meaning to watch Gone Baby Gone (and have ever since Mystic River prompted me to pick up more Lehane books). While I was reading it my mind kept flashing back to Jamaica Plain and the Pond, for some reason.
I know what you mean about liking movies set in places you're familiar with. That's a large part of the reason why I like Somewhere in Time (Mackinac Island) and Cloak and Dagger (San Antonio). :)
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