Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Seldom does one find such interesting chemistry between roles of intimacy as that portrayed between Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan in the respective roles, Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. No groping love scenes nor clutching emotional displays are required either. Honesty and respect are taken in and out like their own breath and make for the most dramatic of all scenes…ironic even to tragic consequence. Such choices dominate Gone Baby Gone, well supporting the almost unanimous opinion of critics that Ben Affleck, the film’s director has succeeded astoundingly well.

We’ve all be fed, in the last 20 years or so, a constant diet of movies exposing police corruption and the ambivalent way in which courts can deal with the worst offenders. This film, however, is hardly redundant or stereotypic in any respect. It is the story in which roles are appreciated as stories in themselves, the way of life when revealed more fully than a lawyer’s closing argument or an ending purely meant to prepare viewers for a comfortable bedtime.

Even the heroes can appear villainous, the villains sometimes noble. The tortured complexity of Remy Bressant, played by the accomplished Ed Harris, inspires sympathy and disgust almost simultaneously. Jaded by long years in law enforcement, Bressant no longer sees the line between black and white, something especially significant in the initial dialogue taking place upon his first meeting with Patrick Kenzie. Asking him his age, his lady partner/lover, Angie Gennaro, responds, “he looks younger than his age.”

Kenzie’s commitment, however, runs deeper than naivete’, much deeper. His is a strong moral core that makes the events that follow work. Uncompromising almost to the perception of fault, he penetrates to truths that bare the extent of wayward travel to which indulging expedience can lead. In this way the film takes on social and historic values far exceeding its storyline, even its genre. If Ben Affleck, also a collaborating script writer, can establish an earmark for other such successes, he will become an exceedingly notable and famed director. And he will have represented one of the highest attainments any art form may hope to achieve, moral instruction.

As the story unfolds its characters unfold with it, drug mules, drug dealers, informants, even overly territorial bartenders, as if the welfare of a lost child is a reduction to the lowest common denominator of all. The media circus most such films content themselves with doesn’t satisfy this one’s demands.

Highlighting Kenzie’s struggles are the interplay between him and Angie. Representing an equally compelling concern for outcome, the crucial time comes when she must confront her lover over a decision he must make, already, most likely, assured of what he must decide. Followed up is the ending scene, a choice again that suggests directing greatness.

A simplicity grand for its simplicity, like a setting from a novel by Doestoevsky or Turgenev. Where we reaffirm, each our own right to choose…wrongly or rightly for ourselves alone.

No one should be denied the right to see this film.

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