Movie review: “Gone Baby Gone”

Gone Baby Gone was a very good albeit rather unsettling crime story directed by Ben Affleck and starring his brother Casey in the title role. The movie is set in a poor working class neighbourhood of Boston that is riddled with crime and drug abuse. When a cute little four-year-old girl by the name of Amanda disappears, seemingly abducted, a pair of private investigators Patrick Kenzie (played by Casey Affleck) and Angela Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) is hired by the very worried aunt of the girl to help the police find her.

What I liked about the story was that you think it’s going down the usual route (i.e. the little girl was obviously abducted by a paedophile), and then there’s a twist where you think she might have been abducted by a drug lord to punish her mother.

But the real truth is only revealed right at the end, turning everything on its head once more. I like stories that keep you guessing almost until the end. I don’t want to spoil it if you haven’t seen it, so I won’t tell you – and don’t read the Wikipedia link either!

I thought the most challenging role to play was probably that of Amanda’s mother Helen (played by Amy Ryan), a self-absorbed drug addict who seems to love her daughter but then leaves her in the care of others so that she (the mother) can have a good time on her own. She is really not a likeable character, but her grief at losing her daughter is genuine and you can feel her pain with her. At the same time, though, I also wanted to smack her for failing to see how lucky she is to have such an adorable little girl and what damage she is causing to her. But it doesn’t surprise me that Amy Ryan was nominated for an Oscar, because it must be hard to take on such a role so convincingly.

What I found most unsettling was the moral ambiguity of the ending: Did the kidnappers do the right thing in abducting the girl, or not? Was Patrick doing the right thing when he turned them in, or not? What repercussions will their actions have 5, 10, 15 or even 50 years down the line?

Deep questions indeed, prompting reflection on one’s own choices and decisions in life.

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Other movies we’ve watched in June: 

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