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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 1:07 am | Fair 47º

 
 
 
 

Cinema in Focus: ‘Gone, Baby, Gone’

Gone, Baby, Gone is a gripping morality tale about the abduction of a sweet little girl from the home of a single mother.

3 Stars — Thought Provoking

For a parent, the loss of a child is beyond comprehension. We all accept the fact that, like it or not, our parents are likely to die before us. But the thought of losing a cherished innocent young one would shake almost any mother or father to their core.

Gone, Baby, Gone  is a gripping morality tale about the abduction of a sweet little girl from the home of a single mother named Helene McCready (Amy Ryan). Stepping out of the house for only a few minutes, Helene came home to find her daughter missing from her bed.

Helene’s sister-in-law, who lives in the apartment above her, summons the police. After reviewing the situation, Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman), the Boston Police Department’s chief investigator of crimes against children, issues an All Points Bulletin calling for a citywide search for this missing 4 year old. Doyle’s passion for the lost child is not due just to his professionalism, but also comes from his own deep-seated pain for his having lost his own child years earlier.

Helene’s sister-in-law decides to intensify the search by bringing in a private detective agency led by Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck; brother of Ben Affleck, who directed the film) and his girlfriend, Angie Gennero (Michelle Monaghan). It is the interplay between Patrick, Angie and the assigned detective to the case, Remy Bressant (Ed Harris), that provides the intrigue and complexity of the story that follows.

Patrick and Angie are in over their heads with this kind of investigation. Their primary previous clients have been simple cases of searching for missing records or finding deadbeat dads who hadn’t paid child support. Patrick’s one advantage is that he grew up in the same neighborhood, and everyone from the drug dealers to the local police know him as a friend. His access to information always seems to take the police by surprise, but they gratefully follow his instincts.

The story that follows is not for the weak at heart. Helene McCready, as it turns out, is not a good mother. Neither is her brother, the people in the neighborhood, the detective, or the chief. Nothing is as it seems. Here is a view of the underbelly of society, a look into Hell on earth. It is fair to say there are more twists and turns than a backwoods road. You’ll have to see the film to know where the story ends, but the questions that are raised along the way are worthy of review.

In any situation in which there is more than one option for determining the best outcome, how do you decide what is the morally superior path to take? If a conflict of choices is set before you, do you choose an answer that is the best for everyone involved or do you honor your commitment to a moral standard that may hurt those involved? The answers are never clear-cut, but the consequences are significant.

Patrick is driven by his religious convictions, the honoring of commitments and the moral imperative to always tell the truth. This puts him in a painful conflict with everyone else in the story, including his partner and girlfriend. Do you please those closest to you and bury your ethical concerns, or do you live in turmoil but know that you did the right thing? "Gone, Baby, Gone" will challenge even those who strongly believe they know the answers to these questions.

Discussion:

How would you answer the questions we pose?

How do you decide the morally superior path?

If a conflict is set before you do you choose what is best for everyone or do you honor your commitment to your own moral standard?

Do you please those closest to you and bury your ethical concerns, or do you live in turmoil but know you did the right thing?

The expectation that we will outlive our children causes the pain of loss of a child to be intensified. The pain is also there because our life does not continue on in our children. How do you believe these sorrows impact the choices of those who have lost their children?

Cinema In Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church  on the Mesa. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com.

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