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Gone Baby Gone

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Ben Affleck's debut as a director is impressive. His brother, Casey Affleck who is cast in the leading role as private detective Patrick Kenzie lives up to his high reputation. Following their work with director Gus Van Sant, these two brothers form a well qualified movie-making team. I had hoped that Ben Affleck would at least appear in a cameo role, however he stayed behind the camera for the duration of the 114 minute movie.

Grating and heart-rending, but well-handled, the film's subject is child abduction. Mercifully, the horror is almost all in the unknown, standing alongside the actors as they question the fate of the child. The viewer will from time to time lower his head and bring his hand to his eyes, overwhelmed by the reality of the few mental images which are implied. "I don't wanna find a little kid after they've been abused for three days." says one of the detectives before she agrees to take the case. Get out there and look for her! screams the viewer, while at the same time, imagining himself in the same situation.

The star studded cast is excellent. Ed Harris plays an undercover police officer, and with the grey goatee and moustache, you would swear that he was an older Viggo Mortenson. Hardened veteran and cynical of anyone younger than himself, Ed steals the role. Casey plays a pensive, driven man who is determined to play life by the rules, even if it doesn't feel right. Morgan Freeman is gold, as usual, and for what feels like the umpteenth time, takes to the screen as chief of police. Michele Monaghan, in arguably her breakthrough role is cast as Patrick's girlfriend, and brings balance and empathy to the movie.

Painfully ironic that it is young Madeline O'Brien who plays the part of the missing girl. Just turned six years old, Madeline is the epitome of innocence and cuteness. Her one-word script is marvelous and well-delivered. Keep an eye on this young star!

This film is entirely unsuitable for children, due to the emotive theme, the frequent swearing and violence. However the mature movie-critic will walk out of the theater, a myriad of questions in his head, mixed feelings, and a refreshed realisation of the depravity in our society. Gone Baby Gone is a film that you will want to watch more than once.

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