Film Review: Gone Baby Gone

In a world that's losing its head ... meet a man that can't.

Gone Baby Gone (2007) – Film Review

Tags: Drug Addiction, Dysfunctional Family, Extortion, Crime-Drama

“Gone Baby Gone” is a film about an incorruptible man. The film starts innocuously enough, with the depressing scenes of a community stricken with a child abduction. Sadly, this is an image that has become all-too common in our times. Art imitates life, they say. Lionel (the missing child’s uncle) approaches a local pair of Private Investigators to supplement the police hunt for his niece (Amy).

The investigators are Patrick (Casey Affleck) and Angie (Michelle Monaghan) – a young couple making their way as best they can in the community they grew up in. They’re connected to the social fabric around them, and it’s just this community adhesion that Amy’s uncle says he wants to tap into from the detectives.

It all seems pretty straight-forward. Drug trafficking is rife in this down-trodden community. It transpires that the child’s mother – an addict herself – recently ripped off a local pusher to the tune of $130,000. Motives seem clear, and the detectives start to color-by-numbers and follow the breadcrumbs.

It turns out that there’s much more going on than first appearances suggest. Patrick is slim, slight and an altogether unimposing figure. Yet we soon see him thrust into risky bar-room conversations with dodgy local low-lifes. He provokes the ire of the local boozers, and we start to feel that Patrick is ruffling feathers that he had best leave unruffled.

The film is really a sequence of confrontations in which Patrick – whether he’s aware of it or not – is being manipulated to follow a certain trail. In the UK, we’d say he is being “led up the garden path”. Ulterior motives abound, and it becomes increasingly hard to know who he can trust. In a way, Patrick and Amy are almost naive in their investigative strategy – and yet there is something pure and true about their approach.

It all comes tumbling down soon enough, and a child’s body is found in tragic circumstances. It seems as though Amy won’t ever be located. But the film is only an hour in at this point. So we wonder if all has quite been revealed yet.

What follows is a community being peeled apart, layer by layer, revealing a set of morally-bankrupt players, all in it for themselves. Throughout it all, Patrick remains steadfast in his mission: to return Amy to her mother (flawed parent that she clearly is).

We’re forced to ask some tough questions – about whether it’s ever right to take the law into our own hands, whether the ends justify the means – even whether having children should be a right or a privilege. But it’s all told through Patrick’s steady, unflinching eyes.

That he can hold his ship steady while everything around him is in turmoil is really something to see. Even his relationship with his girlfriend comes under severe stress. Will Patrick buckle under it all? This is really a story about doing the right thing, even when everything about it seems wrong.

I enjoyed the movie, especially the understated turn of Casey Affleck. He is joined by an able supporting cast.

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