Double Feature: Gone Baby Gone / God Help the Girl

When I write my double features I try to make them relevant to each other. Whether they be sequels, or have a familiar co-star or concept. In this case, it’s the directorial debut of an actor and a musician.

Gone Baby Gone

After not finding much success onscreen, Ben Affleck has turned his sights to the off-screen aspect of film, directing his first feature film. Starring his brother, Casey Affleck, Gone Baby Gone touches on the issues of morality and ethics as two detectives find themselves investigating the disappearance of a child. The movie immediately introduces the child abduction case, something that private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro were quietly following through media coverage. They get drawn to the case when the child’s aunt approach them to aid with the investigation, hoping that others will talk to them since they’re not cops. The case escalates pretty quickly, but they soon discover that there’s more to the case than the facts let on. 

The events surrounding the first half of the movie is clarified when the second act kicks in. It’s the latter half where every detail comes together, allowing the first act to serve as a back story to the dilemma the characters would be facing later on. The subject of morality comes to question: when presented with an opportunity to do the right thing, which decision is the right decision? Is it a decision that benefits the subject, but is wrong in other ethics? Or is it a decision with the possibility of further suffering, but is right in all moral obligations? We’re all taught to do the right thing, but when it comes to accounting for all external factors, the situation one is pressured to make the right decision, which choice is the greater good? All choices have consequences. The movie finally asks the question at the final scenes, with a conversation taking place explaining the two rights in a difficult situation. It will end one way or another, but there is no judgment to the decision made, only consequences. 

Ben Affleck does a tremendous job forming his first work as a director. The pacing of the movie was clear cut, with the screenplay slowly placing down clues for plot closure. It didn’t come out as overly dramatic or underwhelming, but had the right tone to set the mood of the production. Casey Affleck does good job with his role, especially since most of the movie was resting on his shoulders. He has a built that’s suited for the movie - he doesn’t look scary, but when given the right tools, the right motivation, he can come out looking a bit tough. Unlike most movies of Michelle Monaghan I’ve seen, she doesn’t play eye candy here, but she wasn’t given much to work with either. Rather, she is the representation of the other half of Affleck’s personality: what she thinks about certain issues is the opposite of Affeck’s views. Ed Harris seems like an under-appreciated actor who does a lot of work, and does what he can with his character. Morgan Freeman looks like he does characters like this in his sleep, so it was an easy role for him.

Final Word: Great effort from Ben Affleck

Cast: Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Casey Affleck
Director: Ben Affleck
Year: 2007

God Help the Girl

Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian fame wrote and directed a film involving self-esteem issues and music that transpire over one summer. Eve loves music and is always writing songs and singing them out loud, but because of certain issues, she was in a limited environment. However, that summer, she decides to spend it with James, a musician she met at one of the concerts she’s been to, which led him to introducing Cassie to their group. After the trio spent some time together, they decided to form a band, with a goal of playing at a concert at the end of summer. 

The movie can be classified as one long fluid music video, as the characters spring to song and dance numerous times, but the style of their numbers look like they are shooting a music video. They look into the camera when they sing, their actions and blocking are synonymous to that freestyle kind of motion that happens in music videos. 

It’s a visually pleasant production, ranging from their costumes and their movements, and if listening to the dialogue, the words that they use in their conversations are atypical of their characters. The characters weren’t written to be anything special, but they were all musically inclined, and looked as if they were going to get along no matter how. Emily Browning was clearly the star of the movie, but I loved her moments with Olly Alexander. Whether it’s their banter, their simple friendship, or with her aimlessly leading his character on, they were quite adorable. Olly Alexander doesn’t stand out much in his movies, but here he was given his moment of spotlight, and was fantastic in it. The only weak link here would be Hannah Murray, who was a bit stiff in her musical numbers, making her look less charismatic when alongside Browning and Alexander. 

It was well-shot, with framing adding to the already visually appealing film. It was charming and a bit quirky. It doesn’t really focus much on content, but uses the plot as a device to get the singing and dancing going.

Final Word: Some of the songs in this movie can stick due to its melody. It's a delightful movie to watch.

Cast: Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, Hannah Murray
Director: Stuart Murdoch
Year: 2014


  1. Great reviews! I love these two, especially God Help The Girl.

    1. Thanks! God Help the Girl was delightful, the songs were catchy.

  2. Great reviews! I need to watch both these movies.

    1. Thank you! Both movies are great directorial debuts.

  3. Haven't seen God Help the Girl, but I live Gone Baby Gone. Its my favorite of Affleck's directed films. Great review.

    1. I still have to watch The Town, but Gone Baby Gone was unexpectedly good.

  4. I really need to see God Help the Girl...

    I wasn't completely sold on Gone Baby Gone, but it's probably Affleck's finest directorial work.

    1. I haven't seen The Town, but his work on Gone Baby Gone was solid stuff.