Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Alternate Best Actor 2007: Casey Affleck in Gone Baby Gone

Casey Affleck did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Patrick Kenzie in Gone Baby Gone.

Gone Baby Gone is fairly strong directorial debut by Ben Affleck about a private investigator along with the police investigating a little girl's disappearance.

Affleck's brother Casey takes the leading role of Patrick Kenzie who works as an investigator for missing persons along with his girlfriend/partner Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan). Patrick acts as our guide through the case of the missing little girl as he is hired on by the girl's aunt in order to explore all options in their attempt to find her. Patrick seems to be one of the least shady character considering the oddly volatile nature of the police he must work with as well as the girl's mother (Amy Ryan) who is more than a bit of a low life. Patrick is called upon though actually because he is able to try to derive information from the sort of criminal elements in Boston that the cops cannot even hope to approach. Affleck plays the early scenes of his performance well by just showing Patrick as a casual observer of the events. He sees what's going on TV, even makes fun of the cop's efforts, and Affleck is very good at showing that sort of concern you get from hearing a story like this on TV. He's moved by it to be sure as any normal person would be, but he carries that distance since he doesn't know those people.

Affleck uses this as a great starting point for his character as he takes on the case, and at first keeps himself as just doing something that seems routine. Affleck portrays Patrick's demeanor at first as a detective just processing the case for himself in an intelligent fashion. Even when Angie is clearly becoming quickly emotional at the prospect of what could happen to that girl, Affleck keeps as rather calm and collected. After the preliminaries are finished though Patrick takes his unique approach to finding the truth which means visiting more than dank pits. Although Patrick is allowed in these places and even allowed to speak for more than a moment there is always a tense atmosphere as the people he speaks to have much to hide. Affleck has a bit of a challenge in these scenes since he has to be the investigator who gets to the information from these people, even though he's not exactly a Popeye Doyle kinda figure. Although Affleck is obviously not physically imposing, he kinda works with here. In the speaking Affleck keeps Patrick's manner as about cordial as he can be while keeping an underlying intensity as though he might snap and that he's not a man to be pushed around.

Although the film keeps a tight focus on progressing the plot through investigation Affleck does well to realize Patrick as a character, and you understand him even though the film never stops simply to explore something about him. Affleck through seemingly minor moments of the investigation alludes to perhaps a bit of a darker past in Patrick as well through the side found in his his particular method of interrogation both in the way he gets rough, but as well is so comfortable in speaking with known criminals. Affleck shows where Patrick comes from as he wears his way with the town as an essential part of him. In addition to finding the character with the investigation it is Affleck who often brings the most dramatic weight to it. Affleck does begin with that distance in much of the early investigation, but as the trail becomes murkier this gradually changes. Affleck is particularly good in his scenes with Ryan as she reveals the mother to be a terrible mother but one who still cares about her daughter. Affleck is very effective in the way he delicately grows Patrick's empathy for in turn becoming more emotionally attached to the case.

Affleck makes every progression of the story hit harder through his honest reflection of what it does to Patrick's reserve especially at one point where it appears the case has been lost. Affleck's handles the changes in Patrick particularly well as he shows him as a man becoming hardened by the developments. This leads to one scene where he goes along with the cops to raid the home of known drug addicts and a pedophile. Affleck is terrific in the scene as Patrick takes an extreme action. The action could have seemed too much for Patrick to suddenly to something of this gravity, but Affleck is absolutely convincing in the scene. This is partially in that underlying intensity that Affleck gradually built up in the proceeding scenes, but also he brings out the severity of the scene through his gut wrenching reaction within the moment. Affleck though does not suddenly just make Patrick this hard man though, as that would be against the nature of the character he has created up until this point. Affleck is very good in having that moment where Patrick seems to look back on what he has done, and shows how that this action will haunt him for probably the rest of his life.

The last act of the film reveals a twist, that technically is established as well as it probably could be, but on re-watch it is a bit hard to swallow. Nevertheless it's not a complete failure through moral dilemma that it creates in doing the right thing as normal or at least legal morality dictates, or doing the thing that appears would be best for the person in the center of the question. The decision falls upon Patrick and in turn Affleck's performance is once again essential in bringing out the power of the story. Affleck brings the needed passion as Patrick makes his decision. He gives a complete understanding on his side by showing that Patrick's empathy for the victim, and determination to do what is right is unshakable at this point. Affleck does not keep it simple of just being right, the difficult of it is in his voice and his eyes, but so is the conviction of his beliefs. Of course we see the result of the decision and gives Affleck one final scene in seeing a non too favorable outcome for this decision which changed many lives permanently. Affleck's final reaction is flawless as he presents Patrick as almost in a bit of a daze unable to know for sure that he made the wrong decision, but also unable to be sure he made the right one.

32 comments:

Matt Mustin said...

"The last act of the film reveals a twist, that technically is established as well as it probably could be, but on re-watch it is a bit hard to swallow."
Hmmm. That doesn't give me confidence for at least one upcoming review.
Anyway, Affleck's great here.

Matt Mustin said...

Also, ratings and thoughts on Michelle Monaghan and Titus Welliver?

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I actually think Welliver was the standout of the supporting cast.

mcofra7 said...

NO! I was really hoping he would get a 5

Michael McCarthy said...

This is actually my favorite film of 2007 probably. I think this review is pretty spot on for Affleck, but I'm kinda worried about Freeman's review now. I'm starting to feel like I'm the only one who sees the brilliance in that performance.

Matt Mustin said...

It's my second favourite movie of 2007 after There Will Be Blood, and I think Freeman's great too.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

My opinion of the film is the same as Louis's.

Michael McCarthy said...

Just gonna casually give my thoughts on Freeman and see if I can sway anyone.

In his speech earlier on in the film about the importance of protecting the child there are very subtle suggestions that this carries a very deep importance to him, and in the reveal he seemed to exude this self-assumed moral superiority that I thought fit into the themes of the film incredibly well. And then he still managed to be heartbreaking in his final reaction shot.

luke higham said...

Louis: Your rating for Maria Bello in A History Of Violence and Your Top 5 Female Lead/Supporting Performances of 2008 and 2010 with ratings.

mark said...

I thought Freemans way and line delivery gave the twist away,preferred Affleck in his nominated turn which should have won.

luke higham said...

Louis: Lastly, any other performances that would receive a 4 or more for 2010 Female Lead And Supporting.

RatedRStar said...

@Louis: Were you not a fan of Sunday Bloody Sunday? I thought it was quite well made and quite well, revolutionary for its time considering its subject, I know Murray Head was a little too bland, and there is a missing sub plot which doesn't go anywhere, you know, the one where Finch meets a previous lover of sorts ( the scene where he bashes on the window) but still

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

@Michael McCarthy: I actually upon rewatch feel similarly to you, I still don't love the film but I like it a lot more now, I thought Freeman was much more impressive this time round a solid 4 verging on a 4.5.

Affleck: 4
Monaghan: 4
Harris: 4
Welliver: 3.5
Ryan: 4

Anonymous said...

I am getting a little fed up of you constantly suggesting and being far too political in your opinion RatedRStar, I mean your opinion is just idiotic on films, basically any film or TV show that has gay characters or has people in it that support gay marriage in is good in your eyes!!!

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Pfhahahahahaha, oh wow are you for real?

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous1: just saying, but RatedRStar said he didn't care particularly to Brokeback Mountain (which I think is pretty much a masterpiece but oh well). So this is pretty much the proof that what you said is completely untrue (not to mention the rudeness of your comment).

Anonymous said...

I didn't mean it as a rude comment I was just being honest, and I don't recall him saying he didn't like Brokeback Mountain, I remember him saying that he would give Jake Gyllenhaal a second chance as his Best Supporting Actor choice after I believe Nightcrawler came out. I mean its not just that I think he is too political with gay films he is also too biased with actors that he fancys, like in the Asian films that Louis reviews, I am not being rude I am just being honest I mean no ill will towards him.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

You are being rude. Just being honest.

JackiBoyz said...

It is possible that he saw films like Philadelphia and The Boys in the Band and I dont know if he would have liked them, plus I dont even know if he liked Lan Yu, he might have just liked the performance he requested, same with The Hours, Brokeback Mountain, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, A Single Man, I am sure there are plenty, it isn't fair to assume and judge when he might have disliked these films.

As for he having a crush on other actors, I am not into men but soooo? actors like Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender are pretty darn handsome lol, its not like they are bad actors anyway lol.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

If I said I found Marion Cotillard or Emily Blunt hot, would you even have made note of it? Is there a real reason to single out RatedRStar at all?

Anonymous said...

No I wasn't talking about it being a hate gay pro straight thing and I am only singling because he is the only one who often says it, I just mean that I think just because he like likes an actor, or even an actress, he seems to give the performance or the film a free pass, rather than intelligently putting across why he liked the film/performance, I am not against gays or anything at all its just I feel he judges films/performances in the wrong way.

luke higham said...

Anonymous: I'm not getting involved, but he is, what he is. End of.

Michael McCarthy said...

Whenever you say a person's opinions are "completely idiotic," you're not only being rude, you're being intentionally rude. I don't think you're getting away with this one buddy.

Fisti said...

This is, without question, the best performance of 2007.

Louis Morgan said...

Matt:

Monaghan - 3(Even before I read about the changes with the adaptation I suspected that her role was severely reduced since she's given importance yet never given much focus. I think Monaghan does well with the little she has to work with, but it always feels like she is trapped within the confines of her character)

Welliver - 4(I rather like his performance here in that he gives his character an honesty despite his motivations. It's not an honest of character but what Welliver gives him is an honesty of emotion. When Welliver reveals his motivation he really quite moving and manages to give understanding to the character's very questionable actions)

RatedRStar:

I liked it just fine it just would not make my top ten for that year.

Luke:

I'll get you the lists in a bit.

Anonymous:

Wait do you think I'm Asian?

GM said...

Louis: What are your thoughts on Harold and Maude?

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

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luke higham said...

GDSAO: I hope you do write a Hannibal Lecter head to head at some point within the next 6-8 months.

I'm seeing San Andreas tonight.

Has anyone else seen Tomorrowland yet.

luke higham said...

Louis: I can't find Bello's rating anywhere, so can you repost it for me please. =)

Anonymous said...

What are your ratings and thoughts on Glenda Jackson in Sunday Bloody Sunday?

luke higham said...

I saw San Andreas, I enjoyed it for what it was. As always clich├ęs were aplenty here with the douchebag boyfriend of the ex-wife, the one-dimensional romance between two young adults, earthquakes, tsunamis, towering infernos, overly sexualised female characters, 'don't you quit on me', family soap opera and the celebration of the American way.

Ratings
Johnson - 3 (Watchable as always. Bad news is, he doesn't do anything of note during the second act)
Gruffudd - 1 (Cliched douchbag boyfriend, What do you expect)
Giamatti - 2.5/3 (Has the expository role, but I liked him pretty well here)
Gugino - 2
Daddario - 2/2.5
Johnstone-Burt - 2
Parkinson - 2.5
Minogue - 1 (she only has a minute of screen time, but how the fuck, was she even in this film)

Louis Morgan said...

Also since I forgot I would actually upgrade Kidman to a 4.5 for the Hours.

GM:

I liked the leads well enough, particularly Gordon, but I found the film itself a bit tiresome, although that is typical for me when it comes to Hal Ashby.

Luke:

4.5. Also I forgot Tilda Swinton in Chronicles of Narnia who would be my #3 actually.

2008:

Actress:

1. Cate Blanchett - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
2. Kate Winslet - The Reader
3. Angelina Jolie - The Changeling
4. Frances McDormand - Burn After Reading - 3.5
5. Rebecca Hall - Vicky Cristina Barcelona - 3

Supporting Actress:

1. Amy Adams - Doubt
2. Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler
3. Tilda Swinton - Burn After Reading - 4
4. Tilda Swinton - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - 4
5. Viola Davis - Doubt

2010:

Actress:

1. Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone
2. Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine
3. Naomi Watts - Fair Game
4. Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit
5. Carey Mulligan - Never Let Me Go

Supporting Actress:

1. Jackie Weaver - Animal Kingdom
2. Marion Cotillard - Inception
3. Dale Dickey - Winter's Bone - 4.5
4. Olivia Williams - The Ghost Writer
5. Sissy Spacek - Get Low

Also:

Michelle Williams - Shutter Island
Chloe Grace Moretz - Kick Ass
Patricia Clarkson - Shutter Island

Anonymous:

Jackson - 4.5(Technically speaking I felt the same way about her performance as I did Finch's. In that I thought she played her character well in every respect, and certainly created the palatable sense of emotional desperation in her character. Like Finch though it just never took that next step to be a five for me, but it's certainly strong work)