BluRay/DVD Reviews

GONE BABY GONE

By • Mar 14th, 2008 •

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Quite the directing debut by multi-talented Ben Affleck and (forgive me for appearing to damn with faint praise – I promise that is not my intention), a more substantial achievement than most of his in-front-of-the-lens work, GONE BABY GONE is a wonderfully lurid, compelling film noir, populated by well-drawn characters, and fleshed out with intelligent casting and sure-handed direction.

A neighborhood gumshoe (Casey Affleck) investigates the disappearance of a child, encountering turbulent resistance from the child’s family, the community, and the police. Nothing is what it seems, as we slowly, satisfyingly learn. If I were to choose my favorite aspect of the film, it would be the dialogue, which feels grittily genuine, and provides for many unique exchanges. Next would be performances. Topping the list, not surprisingly, is Ed Harris as a complex cop. Amy Ryan is winning awards left and right, including the National Board of Review Best Supporting Actress award, all of them deserved. But Casey Affleck is no slouch; in fact 2007 was his year more so than any other actor’s, having given this performance as well as his (so-called co-)starring role in THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD.

At the NBR Award Ceremony in January, the younger Affleck introduced his brother, who was to receive an award for his auspicious Directing Debut. He casually sauntered to the mic, and while he was not sparing with off-handed compliments for brother Ben, he did temper them with statements such as “He did a nice job, but I wish he hadn’t made me take those two sixty-foot jumps into the water if he knew he wasn’t going to use the footage,” and also criticized how one drug-den scene turned out. Then he casually sauntered off the way he’d sauntered on. A radiant, confident Ben Affleck promptly leaped up onto the stage and, gesturing in the direction of his brother’s departure, exclaimed, “That…is why I deserve this award!” Which got big laughs, and elevated him even further in my estimation.

2007 was the year of failed third acts. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, 300, WAR DANCE, SUNSHINE and EASTERN PROMISES to name several. GONE BABY GONE survives the curse, but just barely, as the protagonist makes a critical decision toward the end which had audience members coming down harshly against the character, slightly tainting the entire viewing experience. On the other hand, perhaps leaving the viewers debating isn’t such a terrible thing. One of the many purposes a film serves is to generate debate. However, an alternate ending is presented on the DVD, as part of the supplementals, which wouldn’t have prompted such audience polarization, with Affleck explaining why he decided not to use it.

The DVD xtras, incidentally, are good. Affleck’s feature-length commentary is intelligent and indicates that he thought out practically every iota of the film’s many components.

And his brother’s 60-foot jump is also included in the Deleted Scenes section.

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