Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Director: Ben Affleck
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris
The year is 2007 and Ben Affleck’s filmography is laden with critically panned films, including Daredevil, Gigli and Paycheck all in the same year (YIKES!). To come back from something like that takes a lot of hard work and self-belief, which Affleck certainly had in abundance when he made his directorial debut with Gone Baby Gone, which is one of my favourite debuts of all time.
Affleck has previous when it comes to the writing department, having won an Academy Award along with Matt Damon for their Good Will Hunting screenplay, so much more of this film’s success was riding on whether Affleck could do a job behind the camera. It turns out he could and as a result, Affleck has gone on to become a much better director than he is actor, along with being one of the most exciting directors in the business.
Gone Baby Gone is one of the most confident debuts I’ve seen, thanks to a hard-hitting story and a screenplay that has such a sense of realism you’d be forgiven for thinking you were actually watching a real investigation into a missing person. The way Affleck pieces the puzzle together is masterful and the payoff for the audience is such a magnificently satisfying one.
As well as having such a captivating story, Gone Baby Gone plays host to some compelling performances, most notably from Ben’s little brother, Casey Affleck. The guy, who is now an Academy Award winner, was always one of those underrated actors who went about his business under the radar however, Gone Baby Gone was the first time I watched him grab the film by the scruff of the neck and make it his own. The supporting cast is quite an impressive one too; Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Michelle Monaghan and Amy Ryan all playing their part and Ben Affleck certainly gets the best out of them all.
So, as a directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone is a great piece of work from Ben Affleck however, it also stands for a shot at redemption for Affleck after his acting career had hit a sticky patch. Affleck has gone on to direct the likes of The Town and Argo, which both exceed Gone Baby Gone in quality and, while I haven’t seen it yet, Live By Night looks like it ticks all the boxes for another fine film from Ben Affleck.