Gone Baby Gone
For his directing debut Ben Affleck, and co-writer Aaron Stockard, adapt a Dennis Lehane ("Mystic River") novel that resists being converted into the usual three-act structure like a circle being jammed into a square. Casey Affleck does leading man honors as Boston native Patrick Kenzie, a youngish private detective sharing his home-office business with love interest Angie (Michelle Monaghan). Relatives of a missing four-year-old neighborhood girl induce Patrick and Angie to take up the case in hopes of recovering her. The girl's mom is a negligent drug addict. Assigned to work with career cops (played by Ed Harris and John Ashton), our private-eye duo find their personal relationship threatened as they descend into a world of brutal drug dealers and lying cops. Strong performances from its ensemble cast can't compensate for undeveloped character-reversals, splashes of exploitation, and a broken storyline that feels like two different narratives pasted together.
Rated R, 115 mins. (C+) (Two Stars)