GONE BABY GONE (Alliance, 2007) D: Ben Affleck, w/ Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan. Rating: NNNNN; DVD package: NNN
I’m amazed Gone Baby Gone didn’t pick up more Oscar nominations. Amy Ryan surely deserves hers, but how about Ben Affleck for best director?
Affleck made two decisions that give his directorial debut a unique feel and powerful air of authenticity. He shot where his story was set, in Boston’s Dorchester neighbourhood, and he cast many locals. That realism shows, and it makes a huge difference, because the neighbourhood is central to the story of a young pair of private eyes brought into a child abduction case.
Affleck and co-writer Aaron Stockard deserve a best adapted screenplay nomination. They’ve remained faithful to Dennis Lehane’s novel while making a highly cinematic, character-driven thriller that takes its complex plot in stride while delivering action/suspense and giving the vital dialogue scenes ample room to breathe. Above all, the movie confronts the story’s thorny dilemma head-on without softening its pain or consequences.
Ryan’s Oscar nomination is no surprise. She somehow builds sympathy and understanding for a coked-out loser whose neglect is directly responsible for her daughter’s abduction. But Amy Madigan deserves one, too, for her self-righteous sister-in-law. Ditto Ed Harris for his cynical yet crusading cop.
Casting and the Dorchester neighbourhood play a big part in the thoughtful making-of docs, but Affleck and Stockard mumble their way through the commentary, shedding some light on the problems of writing adaptations but adding little else.
EXTRAS Director and writer commentary, two making-of docs, deleted scenes with optional commentary. Widescreen. English, French audio and subtitles.