Affleck v. Scorsese: ‘Gone Baby Gone’

An enhanced – dare I say – grittier version of Mystic River, Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone is for me a cornerstone in this nouveau cinematic Boston-crime-drama wave we’re experiencing. And, if I may get on my soapbox for a moment, why this film cannot take precedence over Scorsese’s Departed (last year’s “honorary” Best Picture nod to a man who should have been honored with Best Picture many years before), is beyond me.

Affleck’s film is pitch perfect in its depiction of inner city Boston life. Forget the obvious use of local, non-professional actors and shooting on the actual Dorchester city streets, it’s because the class division of the characters in the film don’t feel forced or have to be explained (as they did in Scorsese’s attempt) that the film is able to strike such a chord in it’s audiences.

Scorsese’s film acutely unfolds in all the ways a labyrinth-like crime drama involving criminals, cops and internal affairs should, but it also patronizes its viewers playing off canned stereotypes and one too many reveals. Affleck, on the other hand, has tailored his feature into something of a Trojan horse; the audience knows to expect something, yet knows not what to expect. Gone’s characters are not so much stereotypes as humans reacting in subtly meaningful ways. Subplots are not as necessary either because Affleck truly seems to love the focus of his central characters in their intimate and unclear quest.

Younger brother Casey Affleck in the lead role is also a true delight to indulge in as he seems to have found a way to convey innocence as his doppelganger to maturity in a sublte but believable way which I’ve seen little of throughout the many films I’ve watched.

If the Affleck brothers continue down this course I see a bright future in the shape of a Coen brothers’ Oscar statue.