"He lied to me. Now I can't think of one reason big enough for him to lie about that's small enough not to matter"
Opening on street scenes from Boston, Casey Affleck's introductory narrative sets the tone. He describes events in his neighborhood - changes, occurences - in a world-weary Boston drawl. Affleck plays smalltime private investigator Patrick Kenzie, who is approached when a young girl goes missing. It is the girl's aunt and her partner who want him to help them. The girl's mother doesnt care - she is a drug addict and sometime coke runner for the local druglord. After some initial hesitancy, Kenzie agrees to take on the case, but it becomes bigger than he could ever imagine.
This is an assured debut from actor Ben Affleck, based on the novel by Dennis Lehane. Film has a similiar feel to that of Mystic River. The pace, tone and shots Affleck uses reminded me of Clint Eastwood, who directed Mystic River from Lehane's novel. No matter what you say about Ben Affleck, he has gathered an impressive ensemble of actors for his first feature, and they more than redeem themselves.
Michelle Monaghan, as Afflecks partner, again reminded me of Sandra Bullock in both looks and acting style, yet she is able to turn this into a positive thing. We are treated to a great performance by Ed Harris as Detective Remy Bressant, giving his veteran cop a cocky swagger that leads us to think he may know more about the kidnap than he is letting on. Morgan Freeman crops up as a police chief involved in the proceedings, giving a by-the-numbers performance that to be honest he can do in his sleep. The snappy dialogue has a real authentic pace and flow, reinforced in my opinion by two standout scenes - an exchange involving Patrick in a bar, and the scene when he goes to meet Cheese, the drug lord that the missing girl's mother works for.
Fantastic acting and an on-point script makes this thriller tower above the others. The central performance by Casey Affleck is revelatory - the character of Patrick is weak, vulnerable, yet able to bring it when he needs to, and grows in strength and confidence as the movie progresses and he gets deeper and deeper. You certainly cant accuse director Ben of cynical nepotism with a performance like this. Also watch out for Amy Ryan as the coke-addled mother - her words sting like venom as she spits them. She is one to watch. I saw this film a few months ago and was concerned that, due to the vague similiarities to the Madeline Mccann case, the Afflecks would not get the recognition they deserved for this film. I'm glad they got the opportunity to bring this to the screen after some fairly minor delays to its release in the UK.
So check this if you like well-written, intelligent thrillers. You may guess the twist though. I pretty much did, and I literally have no common sense
© Robin Maxwell - Spittinflicks.