Gone Baby Gone Ben Affleck

Gone Baby Gone Ben Affleck
It was a surprisingly good year for the Afflecks. Younger brother Casey took on Brad Pitt in that Jesse James flick and carries the lead — as a private detective investigating the disappearance of a young girl in his hometown of Boston — here with confidence and grace. But it’s big brother Ben, here making his directorial debut, that’s experienced the biggest transformation, turning himself from tabloid fodder to some kind of behind-the-camera genius. After all, he first came to prominence as the co-writer of Good Will Hunting — turns out those storytelling chops aren’t entirely dormant. To hear Ben tell it (in a couple of featurettes and a commentary track), it’s all due to his great cast (Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman as law enforcement, and a searing performance from Amy Ryan as the missing girl’s less-than-savoury mom) and his commitment to shooting in real Boston neighbourhoods. He’s far too modest. From its opening frames, Gone, Baby, Gone — based on a novel from Dennis Lehane, as was Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River — is assured and confident in its storytelling momentum. And this isn’t an easy task; Gone, Baby, Gone is a complex story of red herrings and procedural detail, facets that certainly could have eluded more seasoned directors. But Affleck refuses to sensationalise, going for authentic over flashy and quiet and character-driven over histrionic and "dramatic.” Even this single-disc DVD has a certain modesty: a few deleted scenes, featuettes on casting and locations, and commentary from Ben and writer Aaron Stockard. Leaving himself behind the camera and letting his work speak for itself is the smartest move Ben Affleck’s made in years. (Warner)