If that girl's only hope is you, she's Gone Baby Gone
A little girl goes missing at the start of Gone Baby Gone. The family hire private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro to deal with the 'neighbourhood aspect' in this run-down part of Boston. The police suspect the mother may have had something to do with it. Then twists pile upon twists upon twists. It lies somewhere between a serious drama and a detective story - too dark to be a thriller and too implausible to be true. That being said, it's impressive how real it all feels. Ben Affleck's direction is careful and powerful, never tipping into melodrama or feeling to glossy. And Casey Affleck's casting as the lead detective is interesting. Characters comment that he seems too young and inexperienced, but he shows himself to be tougher than he looks, being particularly protective of his partner. In one scene he gets into an argument with a man in a bar, when the doors are locked and the entire place stands up to glare at him. There's no chance of him fighting his way out, so it feels more dangerous and more threatening than this situation normally would. It's a film full of these tense moments, where action has consequences and violence matters. It's based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, who's had three of his books turned into films (including work on The Wire). I haven't read the book, which is actually from a series of Kenzie-Gennaro novels, but it's easy to see the influence. Some scenes drift by as prose monologues - 'Your city, your neighbourhood, your family. People here take pride in these things, like it was something they'd accomplished. The bodies around their souls, the cities wrapped around those'. It's an another compliment to the quality of the directing and acting that this doesn't feel pretentious. Elsewhere, Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman play the cops with lines on their faces. Old and wise and patronising towards the hero.
A very good film. Maybe slightly irrelevantly, it's interesting to see actors from The Wire playing the opposites of their characters. Michael K. Williams looks strange in a policeman's uniform, and Amy Ryan plays the sort of drug runner her Baltimore character would have helped lock up. One day I'll stop relating everything to The Wire, but not right now. Watch Gone Baby Gone, if you haven't already.