Gone Baby Gone

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Gone Baby Gone

Post  SimonJ on Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:11 am

So we'll have a little synopsis of the film, then our discussion. I'll start first, because I'm awesome.

Simon: So the thing that really stuck out for me with this film was the incredibly dirty grey moral swamp it ended up diving into. It started as a fairly clear cut case, and by the end there were all sorts of difficult questions that didn't have answers, or tore the viewer in half. I really liked that at the end, the viewer really decided whether what Casey Affleck's character did was the right, wrong or simply only choice he could make.

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Re: Gone Baby Gone

Post  Luke on Wed Apr 16, 2008 2:57 pm

Yeah, I agree. Aaron Stockhard, the film's co-writer and high-school friend of Ben Affleck, has said that they wanted people to leave the cinema with their own individual standpoint, and that's absolutely what's been achieved, I think. It's that note of moral ambiguity the film ends on that made the film so worthwhile for me, and which will surely divide audiences.

What I really enjoyed was the structure. The first act used to establish the disapperance of the young girl and to introduce the family members who want her back, and the people hired to carry out the mission. But by the end of the second act, it's spiralled into a much deeper, complex scenario. The script withholds so many secrets, so early on, but it doesn't reveal them until it's absolutely necessary. The facts aren't revealed in a way that's patronising to the viewer, or predictable in any way.

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Re: Gone Baby Gone

Post  SimonJ on Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:51 pm

Speaking of predictability, how do you think Affleck handled his directing duties? We've already said he's made a good turn of the adaptation, but we already knew he was at least half a good writer. I got the impression it was a solid first time achievement and that any problems I had were really just stylistic choices. He didn't seem to make any large mistakes, but I remember you mentioning you were keeping a close eye out for that sort of thing. The performances of the cast were interesting too, especially the actors who were relatively unknown. The drug dealing old friend for instance; he gave a great performance as a likeable character, despite what he did for a living. Did you see anything you didn't like about Affleck's handling of his cast and camera?

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Re: Gone Baby Gone

Post  Luke on Thu Apr 17, 2008 12:50 am

Not particularly, no. Like you said, the only decisions I didn't like were those related to style. Regardless of the fact that it's Ben Affleck's directional debut, it's a pretty ambitious project, and it's turned out to be quite an impressive piece of cinema.

The cast was terrific. It's interesting that Ben chose his brother Casey to play the lead role of Patrick. I fell in love with Casey Affleck after seeing The Assassination of Jesse James last year, and his performance in this is just as outstanding. There's something very likable about him, don't you think? And you can see that they obviously had a very effective dynamic happening on set [Simon, maybe refer to the comments in the press release from Ben on working with Casey?]. They also grew up in Boston, where the story takes place, so their research was already half complete I guess. Coupled with the time they spent with real life private investigators, their portrayal of the seedy side of the city is quite insightful.

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Re: Gone Baby Gone

Post  SimonJ on Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:21 pm

You're damn right. I love this quote from the press release by Ben about Casey, "I know when he's being false and when he's being true." That's such a powerful thing to be able to have with your actor as a director and I think it's a genius stroke that he recognised that and ran with it. And you could see that Ben wasn't coddling his brother either. Casey owns this film and manages to go toe to toe with Ed Harris, which is a tremendous feat indeed. I must say at times I was straining to understand and enjoy Michelle Monaghan as Angie, maybe because she was coming across a little too homogenised whiny self-righteous white girl and didn't have much complexity or depth, but by the end I was shocked by her characters choices. I still don't think that made it a good performance, rather she was a tool used by the film to make Casey's Patrick all the more confused.

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Re: Gone Baby Gone

Post  Luke on Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:56 pm

Monaghan was a little tiresome. She plays this important role of the partner - both professionally and romantically - to our main man Patrick, but I questioned her purpose throughout much of the film's first half. Even early on, she came across as plain annoying, and I'm not convinced that was an intentional decision made by the writers. You're right, it felt like she was a device employed by the writers simply for the ending. I would have liked to gain a little more insight into her character and feel comfortable knowing she's there for a reason much earlier than those last couple of sequences where she's required to come into play. On the other hand, the other main actress, Amy Ryan, is so natural as the mother who's lost her child. It doesn't surprise me that she was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in this. And Ed Harris - what a powerful and energetic force.

[that's about all I got dude - besides the striking similarities I noticed between this and Mystic River + The Departed. anything else you want to touch on?]

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Re: Gone Baby Gone

Post  SimonJ on Thu Apr 17, 2008 4:45 pm

[I thought you had heaps of notes? I can't think of much more. I'm glad you mentioned Amy's performance. I think if you want to add a little conclusion we'll be all sweet. And you're right, it's like any film set in Boston has to be a gritty Cop/Criminal Conflict drama.]
Good to see we're in agreement. According to interviews I've seen from both Ben and Matt Damon, if Affleck could pull off directing, both lads were keen to write another film together. That's a huge exciter for me. I rate this film. Go see it.

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