Geeky Cinephile Musings…
I don't pontificate, I blather.

“Gone, Baby, Gone” is Bad, Baby, BAD.

*SPOILER ALERT*

My God...Watch your step, Ed. It's ANOTHER plot hole!!

Paul and I are pretty fond of Casey Affleck, and were intrigued by the thought of brother Ben as a director, so we threw this one on the ol’ Netflix queue.  Gone, Baby, Gone is an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel by the same name.  I haven’t read the book, but I sure hope it’s a sight better than the film. 

This is tough to put down completely, as the acting is very good and Ben Affleck turns out to be an almost capable director.  But I just cannot say this was a good film, for a myriad of reasons.  For starters, the film teeters between styles, not quite knowing what it wants to be.  At first, it is shot in a straightforward, unpretentious style, highlighting the colorful variety of Dorchester residents in an almost loving light.  All of this I was pretty pleased with, but then towards the third act things begin to unravel a bit.  Grimy and slick hints of Fincher’s Se7en appear, then handheld, “gritty” camerawork, trendy and overblown, is thrown in for good measure, and lastly he uses a few blurred focus, slo-mo moments when Casey Affleck’s character, Patrick, is experiencing a traumatic situation.  At times it was pure, cheesy, TV crime drama.  All are worthwhile.  Altogether they make for a murky mishmash.  Hooray for originality!

I wish there would’ve been a more clear focus as to what this film was going to look like.  Although I love it when a director has an unmistakable “stamp,” I think it would’ve been wiser for him to just create a clear and thoughtful story, as he was starting to do in the first part of the film.  It was his first time, after all, and the unique styles can come later with experience and knowledge.  This was just a clusterfuck.  But to be honest, he did do better than I would’ve thought.

Secondly, the screenplay was FILLED with plot holes.  FILLED.  I cannot begin to list them all.  I lost count how many times Paul and I hit the pause button and looked at each other, wondering what the heck just happened, or why that character had chosen to take that particular course of action–so much of it was incredibly implausible.  Tom Clancy said it best, “The difference between non-fiction and fiction is that fiction has to make sense.”  Suspension of disbelief will only take you so far.  For example, it seems pretty ridiculous to think that these police officers would go to all this trouble, risk multiple lives including their own, their reputations, their freedom, and execute civilians, all to give a four year old a better home and a police chief a new daughter.  Oops.  That’s the whole premise of the story.  Uh oh.  But okay, that’s not the film’s fault…but…I’m hoping that a best-selling novel would’ve painted a more likely picture of why this occured.

I read during my research that Ben Affleck said once that he had to trim down the book severely in the adaptation, or else the film would’ve lasted seven hours.  You know what? If that’s the case, maybe you should reconsider adapting that particular book, no matter how much you like it, because you risk not doing it justice.  Again, I haven’t read the book, but I’m pretty sure if that much was cut, justice has not been served.

Next is the never-ending story syndrome.  There are THREE places where it seems like the film is ending, only to have the story continue.  After an hour and fifteen minutes I felt like we’d been watching the film for two hours.  To be honest, I’m not sure what would’ve been an appropriate fix for this, but it was irritating, nevertheless.

As I said before, the acting was well done.  Amy Ryan was nominated a gajillion times for her role as the child’s drug-addicted mother, and those nominations were well deserved.  The other cast members all turned in decent performances, considering what they were given in terms of possible motives and script.  The film brings up an interesting question about whether kidnapping is justified if it’s for the good of the child, and watching Patrick wrestle with his the guilt of his decision after the child has been returned to her “home” is heartbreaking. 

But ultimately I give this film two thumbs down, despite it being a critical darling, which is something I just cannot fathom.  All I can think is that the critics were expecting something terrible and were surprised that it wasn’t, so they responded overenthusiastically.  Don’t believe the hype.

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