by Xavier Toby in New Film on Thursday 24 April 2008

An intelligently told, morally complex tale with a raft of unexpected twists, Gone Baby Gone is one of the most original films of recent times. Most films give you a sense of their narrative arc and it is easy to recognise the major plot points. Mainstream fare actually plays on these devices so audiences feel comfortable – romantic comedies being the typical example of formulaic filmmaking to satisfy an audience not wanting to be surprised. Gone Baby Gone is the opposite, made clear from the beginning as the frame is filled with fat, ugly, real people. The plot, razor-sharp dialogue and brilliant performances then together demand so much attention that you forget about searching for the twists, so when they come, they hit twice as hard. It is dissociative storytelling at its best, and it is wonderful to be watching a film dying to find out what is going to happen next and having no idea what it might be. Ben Affleck might not be able to act, but there is now no doubt that he can both write and direct brilliantly.