“I find the people who started in the cracks and then fell through.”
Directed by Ben Affleck (Argo)
Starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Amy Ryan & Amy Madigan
Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Amy Ryan)
Gone Baby Gone is a very thought provoking thriller about a young girl, Amanda McCready, who goes missing. The film follows the story of private investigator Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and his partner Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) as they try to solve this mystery.
The film sets the seen with Patrick narrating scenes of his rough neighbourhood. The narration mimics the voice of the novel the film is based on, and symbolises the transition from text to film. The scenes the narration is played over include realistic people in all shapes and forms, reminding the audience of scenes they see on the news. This forces the story into our reality rather than one of Hollywood and the audience becomes immediately involved in the story.
The highlight of the film is Amy Ryan, her performance as Helene McCready is astounding. She carries the film and leaves us questioning our morals and beliefs. Are children always better off with their parents? Even if they are bad parents? Should they be given the opportunity to change?
I know I fucked up. I just want my daughter back. I swear to God, I won’t use no drugs no more. I won’t even go out; I’ll be fucking straight. Cross my heart.
Kenzie has empathy with McCready as he has had a run in with cocaine himself. This empathy is not expressed by the other detectives who make jokes as they find her murdered boyfriend and will not even ride with her in the car. However, the audience comes to understand the lack of empathy as it becomes clear that McCready is a terrible parent. The detectives alsodo care about finding children and punishing those that intend to harm them as Detective Sergeant Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) expresses drunk in a car park.
You gotta take a side. You molest a child, you beat a child, you’re not on my side.
Again this is seen as the detective rush in, without back up, to try and find a boy who was likely taken by a known pedophile. Therefore, the audience concludes the Detectives are just harden by what they have had to deal with, but have their hearts in the right place.
The film appears to end, returning to narration, bringing us full cycle, when the girl is thought to be dead but a body remains missing. This mock ending is unsatisfying. The film however has built to this ending. Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) has reminded us time and time again it is likely the child will never be found, or will be found dead.
Half of all the children in these cases are killed, flat out. If we don’t catch the abductor by day one, only about ten percent are ever solved. This is day three.
Angie even suggests that the Captain isn’t using the correct methods to go about the investigation, but the audience is distracted by the Captain’s emotional story of how he lost his own daughter.
My only child was murdered. She was twelve…. my little girl likely died crying out for me to come and save her. And I never did. My little girl died afraid and alone in a shallow ditch bank by the side of the road, not ten minutes from my house.
Finally the lack of empathy from the detectives makes sense. It is not that they lacked empathy, it is that they saw the mother as someone who causing harm to the child, she was the enemy.
The film ends, asking the audience, was Patrick Kenzie’s choice the right choice? Or was he blinded by his love for his rough neighbourhood and the delusion that the people are better than they are? Or even blinded by the belief that if he can get out, so can everyone else?
The film is a good mystery piece, but other films have just done this genre better.