The name Ben Affleck doesn't typically inspire images of overly emotional or pensive films. The actor's lone Oscar nomination—and win—was for co-writing Good Will Hunting, which not-so-coincidentally, was probably the film that best showcased his acting talent.
Affleck got back to his Boston roots for Gone Baby Gone, but now he's behind the camera for the first time, directing little brother Casey in a film based on Mystic River author Dennis Lehane's book of the same name. And after watching this one, you may view both Affleck boys a little differently.
When a drug addict's toddler is kidnapped, her sister-in-law hires neighborhood private investigators (Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan) to aid police in the search. The romantic duo becomes entangled with drug dealers, pedophiles and cops with questionable methodology. But as more case facts are revealed, the question becomes even if the child is found, does the mother deserve to have her back?
The elder Affleck reveals in DVD special features his attempt to portray Boston as an additional character, which is evident. The city, its residents and their local values are firmly represented.
This is a coming-of-age piece for the Afflecks: Ben, 36, illustrates a real knack for storytelling; Casey, 33, proves himself ready for Hollywood leads. Legends Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris as Boston cops also lend much credibility.
Though slow in pace, Gone Baby Gone's payoff comes at the conclusion: an introspective ethical dilemma that should resound with most viewers.
Don't let the Affleck names fool you. This one's decidedly both emotional and pensive. Rent and enjoy.
This video courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.