Gone Baby Gone (2007)

(In theaters, November 2007) It’s become fashionable to beat up on Ben Affleck for poor career choices, but this adaptation, co-written and directed by Affleck, should mark the end of that particular fad. It’s not a particularly memorable film, but it’s quite good at it what it tries to do, and it does try to do difficult things. It starts like many other crime thrillers: someone has disappeared, and someone else is hired to find them. But the story, adapted from Dennis Lehane’s novel, quickly starts picking at sensitive issues with a story about children abuse, what parents should be, and how to atone for past mistakes. The story takes unexpected twists and turns, only to end on a choice without happy alternatives. The ending is more thoughtful than conventionally satisfying, but at least it clearly shows its cards early on, and as such doesn’t betray the intent of the film. The direction doesn’t call attention to itself, but does well in presenting the story simply and without a fuss. The only exception are the action scenes, which show more confusion than skill. But the rest of the film is pretty good, although Michelle Monaghan’s role seems underwritten given its place in the plot. Not a classic, no, but definitely a film that will remain with viewers a while longer than most of what’s out there.

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