Wednesday, March 19, 2008

GONE BABY GONE: Good Show by the Afflecks

GONE BABY GONE (mystery drama)
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, John Ashton, Amy Ryan and Amy Madigan

Director: Ben Affleck
Time: 115 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4)

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? Ben Affleck has shown that he is good in front of the camera but here he proves that he is even better behind it. This first directorial role sees him successfully engaging his viewers in a mystery drama on both intellectual and emotional levels. Also, we get a surprise performance from his younger brother Casey.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT? A young girl, Amanda (Madeline O'Brien), has been kidnapped in South Boston and private investigators Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) are approached by Amanda’s relatives (Titus Welliver and Amy Madigan) to take the case. In their probe, Patrick and Angie have to deal with opposition from the girl's drug-addicted mother, Helene (Amy Ryan); the police chief, Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman); and the two cops working the case, Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) and Nick Poole (John Ashton). Soon the investigators discover a critical clue but cannot prevent the tragedies that force them both to re-consider life’s values.

HITS & MISSES: Ben Affleck has done a superb job with this adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel (Lehane also wrote Mystic River which was adapted by Clint Eastwood). The pacing is great, taking us through twists and turns of the plot and through its multiple layers of mystery. It also helps to have a talented cast. Ben’s brother, Casey, gives a surprise performance here, adopting a subtle, low-key approach even in high-intensity sequences. Amy Ryan, on the other hand, is effusive in portraying the vile and vulnerable mother. Harris, Freeman and even the second-stringers acquit themselves well.

Don’t expect the usual Hollywood ending here. The movie unravels a lot of moral questions about what is in whose best interest and who gets to decide. These will keep our minds going even after we leave the Cineplex.

THE LOWDOWN: Another pleasant surprise by Ben Affleck, just like “Good Will Hunting”.


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