Called in by the family of a missing girl to augment the official police investigation, Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) use their experience of growing up in the area of Boston where Angela McCready (Madeline O’Brien) went missing to winkle out some leads. Soon they’re working as equals with the detectives assigned to the case by Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman), but when one of those detectives is a self-confessed by-any-means-necessary rule-breaker like Detective Remy Bressant (Ed Harris), that’s not necessarily a cause for celebration. Drawn deeper and deeper into a web of drug-dealing, abduction and double-cross, at the heart of which lies the missing girl’s mother, Helene (Amy Ryan), Patrick and Angie find themselves compromised at every turn. Postponed on this side of the pond from its original release schedule last year as a result of the disappearance of Madeline McCann, Gone Baby Gone (based on the best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane) is a bleak and hard-hitting tale of moral corruption on the mean streets of Boston. Strong performances from an excellent cast give the story a gritty authenticity that is at times almost too real to bear, particularly in terms of the police department’s pessimistic outlook on the chances of finding young Angela. Casey Affleck, building on his superb turn in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, is the star of the show, although Harris – who looks eerily like Dennis Hopper – matches him with a chilling portrayal of slow-burning intensity. Ben Affleck, who also co-adapted the novel, directs with no little style in his debut at the helm, slicing out the fat and leaving us with a lean, taut tale. By the finale the character of Patrick Kenzie is a little too squeaky-clean to ring entirely true, but this is a compelling and disturbing movie nonetheless. **** - Declan Burke
This review first appeared in TV Now! magazine
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.