"a multi-layered script with only only the flaw of pushing too hard to make its points"

On the surface, Gone Baby Gone, is a crime thriller about a child kidnapped from a cocaine addicted mother and a private investigator recruited to find her. Beyond that though, the plot only continues to get thicker every step of the way. Ben Affleck's impressive directorial debut features some remarkably naturalistic performances, a genuine sense of locale, and an atmosphere of despair and hopelessness that becomes a major antagonist.

For years Casey Affleck is known to me as Ben's brother. After watching Gone Baby Gone and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, I am impressed and convinced that he is a serious and talented actor. What kept me glued was the consistency of his character, Patrick. As indicated by the opening voice-over, he was seeking to save his soul even as he walked among characters ruined by corruption. Patrick is something of a saint without conventional piety, or at least none shown here, willing to make hard choices and willing to take the consequences.

This film also made me truly think about and respect the decisions each and every lead character makes, Affleck, Freeman, Harris, and Monaghan. I understand why each made the decisions they did, and the film truly made me wonder what I would have done had I been in the same situation. Ben Affleck really did deserve that Oscar he won for writing Good Will Hunting. I thought it could have been a fluke, but watching Gone Baby Gone is proof positive that Affleck belongs behind the camera possibly more so than in front of it!

I am curious to see how well this film is received by our UK audience due to the tragic disappearance of Madeline McCane. If its viewed purely as a piece of art then its a multi-layered script with only only the flaw of pushing too hard to make its points, but Gone Baby Gone is willing to explore the ethical uncertainties of life and to honour that stance by ending on a note of ambivalence and ambiguity. That alone makes it a rarity in commercial film-making.