I usually do my best to review a movie, give my opinions and still keep the important surprises for you to discover on your own should you decide to see the movie.
I started a blog for Gone Baby Gone a few weeks ago but stopped because I realized that I didn’t really want to do a review about it. I didn’t want to tell you bits and pieces to intrigue you to see it.
I wanted to have a commentary on it, and when I read this article today about a severely neglected and abused child, I knew that was what I had to do. The article may be long, but I IMPLORE you to read it.
There are so many thoughts – most of them of outrage – racing through my head right now, so it’s hard to know where to begin. I guess I’ll start with the movie’s storyline so that you can see why I drew the parallel with the article.
Casey Affleck stars as Patrick Kenzie, a born and bred Boston private investigator. He and his girlfriend, played by Michelle Monaghan from Made of Honor and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, are hired to search for a missing girl. Morgan Freeman plays Captain Jack Doyle. He lost his daughter many years before in a similar situation, and has since devoted his law enforcement career to keeping other parents from ever having to experience such a tragedy.
The little girl doesn’t exactly live in one of Boston’s best neighborhoods, and the mother’s pleas for help on local television newscasts seem a little disingenuous. So Doyle tells detectives Bressant (Ed Harris) and Poole (John Ashton) to collaborate with Kenzie and Gennaro (Monaghan).
Evidence leads the investigators to believe that one of the local drug dealers has taken Amanda hostage because Amanda’s mother has stolen money from him. During a botched attempt to retrieve the young girl, she falls over a cliff and drowns in the water below.
Kenzie and Gennaro are haunted by the case. I saw the film several months ago in a fever-induced haze, so the details are a little fuzzy, but something leads Kenzie to continue digging until he discovers that Amanda is still alive and well. She didn’t drown, and she wasn’t kidnapped by a drug lord or a sick pedophile. Her uncle, who – along with his wife – hired Kenzie and Gennaro, worked in conjunction with Bressant and Doyle to take Amanda away from what they felt was an unhealthy atmosphere for a child.
While Amanda’s mother has been grieving (I type with a sneer) for her dead daughter, Amanda’s been thriving in a loving, caring environment with Captain Doyle and his wife. Kenzie is determined to return Amanda to her rightful place, but Gennaro tells him that if he does, she’ll leave him.
Ultimately, Kenzie goes with his law-abiding conscience and turns in Doyle, Bressant and Amanda’s uncle. Amanda is returned to her mother’s care (yet again, I type with a sneer), and the last scene of the film shows Kenzie staying home to babysit Amanda as her mother leaves for a date with a guy who contacted her because of the whole kidnapping charade.
Everything is as it was. Amanda’s disappearance didn’t do a thing to change her mother’s attitude about child care.
Here’s the rub. I can see Kenzie’s point of view. I can see that it’s not right for someone to play judge, jury and executioner and decide what conditions are appropriate for a child. That’s what social services and child advocates are meant to do, BUT when, as in the case of the aforementioned article, complaints are made and nothing is done by those sworn to protect and serve, what other recourse is there?
How many children have to be left for 7 YEARS huddled in their own urine and feces and covered with roaches and lice before someone will notice that the system isn’t working?
As the movie ended, I sat there balling. My friend said I was too sensitive and that I was taking it too seriously. After all, it’s “just a movie.” But I was imagining that there are children all over the world, maybe even right next door to me, who endure this sort of existence, and it breaks my heart.
Then I read an article like The Girl In The Window and struggle with comprehending just how badly poor Danielle was abused, and in the same article, read about her mother saying that, “The boys were with her,” and that she has the paperwork to prove it and that that makes it all ok. Are you kidding me?
It’s like reading a Holocaust survivor’s memoir and then having a White Supremacist look you in the eye and say that it never happened.
What’s the answer? What’s the solution? As I mentioned before, there are government agencies whose sole purpose is to work toward eliminating these situations and others which are charged with protecting those involved if the situation couldn’t be avoided.
I think it’s disgustingly deplorable that a human being could be treated in such a fashion, but obviously those who would lie around in squalor and later excuse their actions or try to blame someone else, are mentally ill.
Has it always been this way, and we just didn’t know about it because communication and news dissemination was never this efficient or widespread? I have no answers. I’m left simply with the hope that there are more people like Danielle’s adoptive family in this world than there are like Danielle’s birth mother.