Where This Meets That
I’ve historically disliked Ben Affleck. I think it was ever since I first saw him as the flunky jerk O’Bannion in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused. He was fine enough in that, as a jerk, but I’ve generally never understood his appeal as an actor.
However, now after having seen two films he has directed, I’m forced to throw him some respect. I know Ben will appreciate that.
The Town was a gritty crime drama that left me impressed, but only after finally watching his 2007 directorial debut Gone Baby Gone last week was I totally sold on Affleck’s ability to direct.
Gone Baby Gone is a gut-wrenching search for an abducted four-year-old girl. The film is filled with interesting twists, moral quandaries, and powerhouse performances by a cast including giants like Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman. The surprise for me was Ben Affleck’s younger brother Casey in the lead role as a private detective on his first major missing person case. He is simply phenomenal, pulling off a performance that is both tough and tender but, more importantly, also genuine.
The film itself forces us to look at the right and wrong in the world in a different light, to wonder what is best when looking at the home life many children grow up with. I am reminded of Keanu Reeves’ character’s line – and you know a statement is pregnant with profundity when prefaced with a reference to words spoken by Keanu Reeves – from Ron Howard’s movie Parenthood: “You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let [anyone] be a father.”
In the end, some truths are just ugly. Props to Affleck for effectively capturing that truth here.
Gone Baby Gone score: 4 Falcone Rings