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Gone Baby Gone

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for violence, drug content and pervasive language

Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Drama, Crime, Adaptation
1 hr. 54 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 19, 2007 (wide—1,500 theaters)
Copyright, Miramax Films Copyright, Miramax Films Copyright, Miramax Films Copyright, Miramax Films Copyright, Miramax Films Copyright, Miramax Films Copyright, Miramax Films Copyright, Miramax Films Copyright, Miramax Films Copyright, Miramax Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Miramax Films

I think I was sexually abused, but I’m not sure. What is sexual abuse, and what can I do to stop the trauma I am facing now? Answer

Child abuse—sexual

Stories of sexual abuse

Does God feel our pain? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

How does viewing violence in movies affect the family? Answer

How can I tell if I’m getting addicted to pornography or sex? Answer

Featuring: Morgan Freeman, Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris, Robert Wahlberg, Amy Madigan, Amy Ryan, See all »
Director: Ben Affleck
Producer: David Crockett, Alan Ladd, Jr., Dan Rissner
Distributor: Miramax Films

“Everyone wants to know the truth, until they find it…” reads the ad for the film, “Gone Baby Gone.” As provocative as this proverbial thought is, it is rather uncomplicated when compared to the dilemmas faced by the characters (and by cinematic symbiosis, the audience as well) in the film it advertises.

Ben Affleck makes his directorial debut with a script that he adapted from the bestselling Dennis Lehane novel.

Ben’s younger brother Casey stars as Boston private detective Patrick Kenzie, who along with his girlfriend Angie (Michelle Monaghen) are hired to find a missing four year old girl. Fearing the worst, both are hesitant to take the job of finding the missing girl, Amanda. The search has them cross path with Lieutenant Doyle (Morgan Freeman) and Det. Remy Bressant (Ed Harris). There is the typical ego exchange between the police and these upstart private investigators, but calmer heads prevail and the forces decide to work together. Kenzie proves to be a great asset to the investigation having grown up in the neighborhood so his knowledge of the streets and residents is utilized to their advantage.

Kenzie finds out that Amanda’s family has not been absolutely honest with him and are hiding the fact that Amanda’s mother’s drug use may be the cause behind Amanda’s disappearance. In their search to find Amanda, Patrick and Angie wander into the shadows of Boston’s underworld of drug-dealing, prostitution and child abduction.

The investigation also forces Patrick to question the lines between good and evil, right and wrong. We as audience members are forced to view the moral dilemmas that film poses through Patrick’s lenses, and none of the decisions are easy.

The performances are superb. Casey Affleck gives a riveting and nuanced portrayal, and Michelle Monaghen delivers a very believable performance as she balance between supporting Patrick and abandoning him in the tough choices they have to make. Ed Harris is his normal stellar self, and the whole supporting cast does a fine job of bringing life to the people of this Boston neighborhood.

As far as objectionable material, the characteristic that would be hard to miss is the considerable amount of profanity included in this movie, every curse word one could imagine is uttered numerous times, at some instances characters speak rapid sentences of profanity-laced words, only broken up by an occasional preposition. There are multiple instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, racial epithets and homosexuals being referred to by an offensive epithet, you know that other f-word.

By most standards, the film is not graphically violent, however, there are scenes of shootings and characters getting shot with the blood and gun shot wounds on display. There are a couple scenes of gruesome crime scene investigations. The element that will probably be most disturbing to viewers is the overall tone of the movie, and based on its subject matter, if left out it would make the movie far less effective, if not much shorter. The film centers around child abduction and all the unseemly elements that are linked to it, including molestation and child pornography. Though the film doesn’t delve too deeply into those areas, the disappearance of this child certainly plays on the most primal fears of the characters.

Let it be clear, the film is disturbing, due to the fact that the film dares to go into places many audience members may not want to enter, but more than that it poses questions most audience members may not want to address.

“Gone Baby Gone” is rated R and runs 114 minutes.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—This is an excellant film, though it almost completely ignores faith as a real presence in any of the characters' lives. It does provide very accurate insight into the world of child neglect and abuse. We may not like to look at how ugly the world can be, but that does not change reality. This film is offensive to the sensiblities of those who are lucky enough to never see what so many of the most innocent of all suffer.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 4½
Leah Strickland, age 34
Positive—Wow, what can I say, this movie was absolutely amazing. The acting and directing were both nothing short of phenomenal, boasting names such as Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman. The story line itself centers around a child abduction and the many serious issues conected to it. The language, spattered throughout in clusters, is the only major area that a Christian will find objectional, but is not enough to completely rule out this film (at least for me). This is one of those movies that will leave you thinking about its message and the choices of its characters for days. A good way to spend the night and your money.
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
Joe, age 24
Positive—This movie is set in the worst parts of the Boston underworld, and the language used is exactly what is used in this kind of society. This film is in the genre of realistic crime drama and I did not think the profanity was over the top, even though it was pervasive. I have heard people who grew up on the street talk just like this. The story line is interesting, as a likeable and sincere young detective, played brilliantly by Casey Affleck, promises a mother that he would find her missing little girl and he does every thing he can to fulfill his promise.

The twists to the plot, the many levels of action, are intriguing, and I was interested throughout. The best part of the movie, in addition to the good acting and direction, are the questions it poses regarding how we make our decisions. Must we always submit to governmental laws and requirements? Is it ever good to do the wrong thing for the right reason? I liked this movie and don’t regret seeing it. The violence is there, but circumscribed and mostly off-screen. The language is rough, but it accurately reflects the society depicted.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 4½
Positive—I’m not surprised to hear that some people walked out of the film within the first hour. Without question, the film’s characters spew every vulgar word known to man (many used repeatedly) to portray the gritty world of working-class Boston. However, those who judged the movie by its first hour and judged it by its profanities passed judgment too quickly. They missed a vital lesson for every Christian. Casey Affleck’s character Patrick portrayed the most realistic born-again Christian I’ve ever seen in liberal Hollywood.

Most Christians are represented in the films as either Ned Flanders types, who seem to act as if there is no evil in the world, or nutty extremists, who act in sanctimonious ways that are far from following in Christ’s steps. Instead, we have Patrick, a born-again Christian (as implied by his seedy past and the fact he now wears a cross and refers to his Catholic faith) who sins (committing a major sin in the middle of the film) but tries to do what’s right. And in the end he’s faced with a major dilemma of right and wrong, a choice that leaves consequences that echo Matthew 5:11: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

And the final scene demonstrates the power of Christian love, what is possible when Christians step outside of themselves and give their lives to others. I bet those of you who walked out early never thought that you’d hear someone say that about the film. I recommend those of you who haven’t seen it yet to watch it—the ENTIRE film—and tell me if you don’t come away with a powerful lesson of what it really means to be a Christian.
My Ratings: Offensive / 5
Chad, age 30
Positive—Most people seem to be upset by this film’s use of the f-word. I have read nothing in the Bible that has anything to do with the f-word. Rather, the Bible’s concern is ethics, and this film tackles ethical problems. How do we know that what we do is right? How do we survive in a world that can seem vicious? To answer this problem, the film quotes the bible. The main character tries to live that message. Does he always live up to it? No, but he tries, and in trying very interesting ethical questions are discussed. The f-word is utterly unimportant to the message of faith. If the f-word were to be removed from the film, it would be a fantasy rather than a representation of our world, and would thus be conflicted aesthetically.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
John R, age 23
Positive—Oscar Wilde said “the truth is rarely plain and it’s never simple.” Truth is not a comfort; it’s a cross. A lonely cross. “Gone, Baby, Gone” dramatizes this concept quite well. The hero is left alone at the end of his ordeal—not unlike Sam Spade after he sends Mrs. O’Shaughnessy “up the river” at the end of “The Maltese Falcon”—his mind is full of doubts, but his actions—the ones that count—are pure. The language, the character and the mood of the film may seem sour and coarse (a potty mouth version of “High Noon”), but the point the movie makes is a good and honest one. The human heart is sometimes as dark and murky as the quarry that lay at the core of the movie’s mystery, but human faith and reason sometimes shine a light into that darkness, and that makes all the difference.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Jim O'Neill, age 54
Negative—Just saw this movie and it was about the worst I’ve ever seen in filthy language and if that had been removed it still would have been a very bad movie. It was slow,uninteresting and a real dissapointment. The only reason we stayed was because we were there by invitation and came in our friends car. Our two friends opinion of this movie was exactly like my husband and mine,even though we don’t share the same values usually.

There’s an old saying that the true sign of complete ignorance is when a person uses the same word every other word: Ben Affleck (who I used to think was a very talented person)not only directed this but wrote the screenplay, and showed his complete ignorance by using the F-word ever other time in every conversation no matter who was speaking;whether drug dealers, chief of police, cocaine addict or young boy on a bike.

The f-word must be in this movie at least 300 times in addition to some of the filthiest phrases it’s absolute garbage. You’d have to be drunk or on drugs to enjoy this trashy movie. I thought Ben Affleck had a lot more class and values than this. …
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 1½
Dorothy Brawley, age 64
Negative—As a student who attends the college to which film writer Dennis Lehane (Gone Baby Gone) is affiliated with, even I was suprised at the extent of swearing contained in this movie. At times I found it difficult to even comprehend what the actors were trying to say because so many cuss words invaded their sentences. If you are familiar with Lehane’s “Mystic River,” you probably have a good idea of the language used in his films. However, “Gone Baby Gone” takes swearing to a new level. Other than the more “common” swear words were some that probably even the most foul mouthed would find highly offensive. Had the bad language been erased, this film would have probably lasted about 25 minutes. The plot had some potential, and the acting was decent, but there were too many twists and turns. So many, in fact, that the movie became too unbelievable for me to fully enjoy it.

As stated earlier, I attend Eckerd College, which Dennis Le hane is affiliated with, and I can definitely see who were the influences for much of the story. Afterall, Eckerd College is home to some of the worst mouths I have ever heard, not to mention it was possibly the inspiration for the massive drug usage in the movie. Maybe I’ll stop by Lehane’s office and talk things over with him.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 3
T. Taylor, age 21
Negative—Both my wife and I were compelled to walk out. We do attend many R movies, but I’ve never been so appalled by such intense cursing, and discussion of child molesters. My shame motivated me to find a site that critiques films (I found this site)—so that I will use better judgment.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 3½
Frank Meyer, age 44
Negative—This movie is extremely compelling and emotionally stirring. It is dark in its subject matter and quite distubing in its realism. From a technical and movie making standpoint Ben Affleck did a decent job as did his younger brother who plays the main character.

However, from a moral point of view the use of language was way over the top. I wondered if this movie was surpassing the F-word record set by DePalma’s movie, “Scarface.” It is a shame that writers and actors and producers/directors degrade themselves with such profanity. I wonder how, in good conscience, Ben Affleck could stand back and be proud of this movie from a morality standpoint. Those who use profanity of this nature can’t possibly respect themselves or those they speak to. In the early part of the film my wife and I discussed walking out but stayed to the end. I would not recommend this movie.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 3½
Chris, age 45
Negative—Very disappointing film. It’s understandable that the setting and makeup of the film will contain some bad language, but there was absolutely too much swearing in this film and many places where less offensive words could be used to get the same point across. The trailer to this film made it appear to be more action packed and suspenseful than it really was. It was predictable and had the most horrible ending I’ve seen in a movie in a while.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 3
Cydni, age 26
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was absolutely wonderful. The story is completely unpredictable, and you can’t see the twists coming at all. The ending wraps it up well enough, but leaves some unanswered questions to make you think. It leaves you wondering what you would have done if you were in Patrick Kenzie’s position. The acting is amazing. Amy Ryan has surprisingly little screen time, but still deserved her Oscar nomination. Pervasive language is an understatement.

I counted 126 uses of the f-word and there’s constant swearing through the entire film. The violence isn’t so bad, but there is one scene where Patrick finds the body of a brutally murdered child in a bathtub. That was the only thing I found disturbing, although the drug content and main plot may be unsettling to some. I think most 16 or 17 year olds could watch it, but probably wouldn’t enjoy it. I loved it from beginning to end, and would recommend it to anyone who wants a 2 hr thrill ride with a good point to make.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Linda, age 16