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Heroes of the Zeroes: Gone, Baby, Gone

by on May 2, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Gone Baby Gone”
Rated R

Ben Affleck’s directorial debut shot an arrow through a valentine to the toothless, pockmarked, drunk, violent and malnutritioned in his native Boston. With co-writer Aaron Stockard, Affleck adapted Dennis Lehane’s novel with the jovial, lyrical profanity of “Good Will Hunting,” only with a dangerous edge.

Impossible to shake and distinguished by Casey Affleck’s dynamic lead performance as P.I. Patrick Kenzie, 2007’s “Gone Baby Gone” covers exhausting moral ground.

Very Irish and very Catholic, “Gone” fearlessly uses its story to raise questions about parental preparedness and provoke discussion as to whether Patrick’s final choice is one you would make. Called upon to find a missing girl, Patrick soon uncovers a conspiracy going beyond bad dealings by her mother (Oscar nominee Amy Ryan).

Ben Affleck has a good feel for the disorientation of sudden gunfire, with unexpectedly loud roars and a pair of confrontations that erupt into broad daylight so as to be even more jarring. “Gone” also physically manifests the uneasy energy resting inside Patrick, who can only avoid making a tragic decision for so long.

The story’s only problem is that any nagging suspicions you might have about what’s going on likely are founded in a clunky climax. Still, all of these twists are a hook on which to hang Ben Affleck’s most memorable project on either side of the camera since “Hunting” — speaking eloquently to notions of sacrifice with a bittersweet, ambivalent and unforgettable conclusion.