I have two problems with Gone Baby Gone which is an otherwise engrossing and moving picture. Itís the story of a PI who is hired by the family of an abducted girl to help find her and the moral grey zones that he comes across in his pursuit.
Gone Baby Gone has at its heart a great idea but it just doesnít manage to execute it well. To illustrate this I will have to spoil it a little so if you donít want to know details of the story, and it is probably best to experience the film without knowing much at all about it, then come back and read this review after youíve seen it.
My first problem is the convoluted and unrealistic conspiracy plot which the film needs to get where itís going. It turns out a bunch of very unlikely people are involved in the little girlís kidnapping and their scheme is a major stretch, one that makes the entire film unbelievable and unfortunately takes away from the power the story would have otherwise had. Maybe the writer could have come up with a better idea. Maybe there isnít one. Basically, the kidnappers have the little girlís best interest at heart. Their plan relies on such a series of coincidences and unlikely motivations that it just doesnít wash. Is this the problem with the script? Maybe the film makers didnít do a good enough job of convincing us. Either way, it just doesnít add up.
However, it takes us to an interesting and quite troublesome place. It creates a moral dilemma which is a fascinating one. However, this leads to a problem too.
The dilemma in question is whether or not the little girl is better off with her neglectful, drug addicted mother who inadvertently abuses her daughter or with the kidnappers who treat her very well. What the film needs to do to get us here is ignore the fact that social services would never allow the girl to go back to her mother. We are supposed to swallow that she is quickly returned to her train wreck of a mother. It just doesnít fly either.
The movieís message needs both of these suspensions of disbelief to get us to where it goes. I am glad it tried to get us there and I found the drama powerful and the quandary intriguing. However, I found the path to that place poorly executed and this took away from the power the film should have had. Still it has some power and is still worth checking out for that alone.