*Any spoiler will be announced well beforehand, for if I am responsible for spoiling an incredible movie I will also be responsible for my own violently poetic (er, metaphorical) death*

For those who haven’t seen it, Gone Baby Gone is a movie co-adapted for the screen and directed by Ben Affleck– WAIT, STOP, DON’T JUDGE, HOLD YOUR HORSES AND, UM, ETC. Ok, if you’re still reading this and not a status update accompanied with an instagram photo of your friend’s unfilling vertical cracker food which probably cost 50 bucks then I thank you. I promise I won’t disappoint. I hope. I mean I’m sure. That’s right, don’t need to assure you that my word means the world do I now?

Ok so Ben Affleck, what’s the fella’s deal right? Height of fame: Jenny from the Block  (don’t let the nostalgia sucker punch you in the face) i.e. the Bennifer Conspiracy (desperately trying and failing to make something uninteresting interesting, guess I won’t be getting a job at the tabloids anytime soon…they probably pay well. Joke’s on me) . At that point, Good Will Hunting, for which he won an Academy Award for co-writing was clearly a fluke. Matt probably just felt sorry for him and gave him a bit of condescending credit.  After all, our dear Ben Affleck had done a string of painfully bad movies which irritated me to the dark pits of my undying soul. Apart for Gigli. Can’t judge a movie if you couldn’t be bothered to watch all of it, girl that’s just rude.

ANYWAYS, I digress I do. My point is, when I went to watch Gone Baby Gone, all I knew was that it was a kidnapping movie starring his brother. Maybe a cameo with Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris. Basically my expectations were low. I thought at best it’ll be just any other kidnapping movie with an adorable kid whose rosy cheeks and starry blue eyes would make my ovaries squeal, perhaps a couple of exciting moments which aren’t actually exciting and, well best case scenario I’d try to be nicer to my parents for the next day until I realised I couldn’t. Might make me cry, but heck I’ll cry if a kid drops his ice cream. That’s a lie. I’d only cry if I dropped my own. Never take ice cream for granted.

But here’s what actually happened: Ben Affleck humbled me. Right then. Sounds a bit odd. Let’s move on swiftly and not focus upon images my awkward sentence structure may or may not impose on your innocent mind please and thanks.

So I’m gonna skip straight to the end (NO spoilers). The last words of the movie were spoken and I sat still. I watched the credits roll. I let it all soak into my soul, into my bloodstream. Bit graphic, sorry, just trying to make a point. It took me several moments to snap out of it. To tell you the truth, I’ve seen that movie more times than I can remember and I feel exactly the same way every single time.

The writing, the directing, the acting, the cinematography the EVERYTHING is just beautiful. You believe these characters, you believe their dilemmas, you can see it in their faces, feel it in their voices- dilemma being a shameful understatement, I apologise. Moreover, specially the second time round, you put yourself in their shoes without even realising it. And this is of course because the acting is just…sigh. I suppose Casey Affleck, who was absolutely fantastic,  is the protagonist, but really, the actors are playing human beings who refuse to be neat little cookie cutter villains or heroes (for the love of God don’t go tumbling for cookies). Heck, the movie makes you question these stereotypes completely with the brilliant performances by known and unknown faces acting side by side. By the end I’m always lost and confused and frustrated- in a good way. I know I know that’s a bit oxymoronic but when you’ve watched it (yes, I said WHEN goddamn it) you will probably understand why, even if you end up reacting differently.Morals, rights, lines, boundaries, feelings, justice– everything is blurred.

The directing feels honest, it is honest. Affleck created a sense of reality and having grown up there as a kid, infused his feelings of Boston into the locations, extras, wardrobe you name it. Now I’ve never been to Boston, but for some reason I feel it stays true to Affleck’s hometown. I wholeheartedly agree with all of you: someone’s getting a bit pretentious making bold ass statements about a place she’s never been to. Actually, it’s just a reflection of Affleck’s directing. The movie features the people living there, not acting there. Their houses, not sets. It’s Boston, not Hollywood. Affleck’s dedication to the whole picture and attention to the details of the from beginning to end gives an undefinable aura to the movie.  This is not a director trying to make a comeback box office hit at the expense of its artistic value. This is the death of a celebrity, and rising from the ashes is a director who deeply cares and respects his art. A much needed revival for Ben Affleck, and much deserved as well.

The best part is he doesn’t even have to say so himself, his movie does it for him.

Now my lovelies, this is where you go watch Gone Baby Gone if you haven’t already and keep this open in a tab to read on afterwards (so I like to believe I control the masses, what of it?)


The twist in Gone Baby Gone was of course the fact that the kidnapping of Amanda is phony all along and that the detectives and captain were in on it. Yet, I feel uncomfortable calling this a ‘twist’- after all this isn’t an a oh-my-god-Bruce-Willis-was-dead-the-entire-time moment, this had a more profound effect on the movie. Whether the actions they took are right or wrong everyone wants the best for the child. Indeed it’s the struggle between these morally ambiguous concepts which lie at the heart of this movie and the performances of the actors.

This is reflected throughout with deep intense dialogue between characters at different points in the movie, starkly contrasting the intimacy of the scenes with the consequences of the characters’ actions and beliefs . After Patrick shoots and kills a child molester he confides in Remy, telling him that ‘shame is God telling you what you did was wrong’ and that ‘murder’s a sin’, to which Remy quite bluntly responds with ‘Depends on who you do it to’. Affleck’s protrayal of someone who draws a line in black and white concrete is juxtaposed beautifully with Hariss’  world weary portrayal  of someone who draws it in grey sand.More heartbreaking though is the scene when Angie pleads Patrick to leave Amanda be, to let her live a happy life without her drug addict mother, with Patrick refusing to do so and thus ending their relationship. Not because one person is good and the other is bad, but because, as the movie emphasises so well, good and bad is relative to prespective.

The most powerful scene by far is that between Patrick and the Captain, a scene in which Affleck holds his own against the incredible Morgan Freeman. Both believe they are doing what is right. But what is right? Returning a child to her mother or saving a child from her mother? ‘Wait thirty years’ says Doyle, ‘you don’t know what the world is made of yet’, insisting the rules don’t matter, not if it means Amanda will be better off even if Patrick doesn’t know it yet. His words are said with authority but the pain of the loss of his own child echoes in his voice, perhaps questioning whether he isn’t doing this as much for himself than he is for Amanda.  Here is where Affleck’s performance is so engrossing: he convincingly betrays the young naive archetype. Maybe Patrick will regret this decision and apologise to a grown woman for  sending her back to a drug addicted mother, but he’d rather regret the right decision than allow the possibility of regretting the perhaps more morally dubious one, a decision which Casey Affleck depicts so well with his soft spoken yet innately nuanced strong voice. It reflects his character’s belief that regret and pain are not good enough reasons to do the wrong thing, whatever that may be.

What I love and appreciate so much about Gone Baby Gone is that at no point does the movie tell you what to believe; you feel emotionally attached to these characters but not morally. This is why as I said before, every time I watch this movie I’m at an absolute loss- but that’s a reflection of me. Some might watch it and think Patrick did the right thing, while other may be repulsed with his decision, giving the movie a seminal ending. Strip away all this intellectualism  though and what you’re left with is the poignancy of the ending: ‘Annabelle’. The last word of the movie, and the only thing ever said by Amanda, the daughter of a mother who doesn’t even know the name of her favourite doll. This warrants more than a mention of Amy Ryan who gave a fantastic  Academy Award nominated performance as a distraught, druggie mother. She brings to life a foul mouthed, cocaine snorting, unfit mother, yet one whose love for her daughter still seeps through the the cracks of her broken life. She’s the character who we hope will get her daughter back and care for her the way she failed to before, but alas it’s suggested that Helene returns to her old habits, leaving both the audience and perhaps even Patrick in a state of ambiguity as the credits finally roll.

A stunning, beautifully crafted movie. Good one Ben Affleck. Really freaking good one.