Cities in Cinemas: “Gone Baby Gone” by Ben Affleck
Gone Baby Gone is a film from 2007 and it is about the dark side of humanity, selfishness, but also about caring and about being moral and righteous. These themes are present in the film Gone Baby Gone and the film is successful in depicting major social and family issues. The story follows child kidnapping, two private detectives, the police and their attitude towards what means to do the right thing. The protagonist is a private detective, Patrick and he is a man of high integrity and moral standards, focused on doing his job consciously.
The dark side of humanity is depicted through the event of plotting the abduction of the little girl, Amanda whose mother does not care for her enough. People who believe that they are highly moral think that it is justifiable to take justice into their own hands and decide what it takes to do the right thing. Of course, they decide what the right thing to do is and their judgment is not influenced by the public opinion. Such people believe that they are right because they care about other people and want to be of help to the society. However, their point of view is not right because they are biased and it takes more than one person to make a decision about what is moral and righteous. People need to think about the feelings of others and to abide the law even if they consider it ineffective. Law is the only thing that prevents the world from slipping into anarchy and that is why everybody has to follow the rules of the society. Nobody is entitled to make decisions based on their own sense of right or wrong and because it is necessary to think about what is legal and moral. Sometimes, it may be difficult to exclude emotions from the process of thinking, but being rational is obligatory especially if a person is a police officer or a detective.
There is much selfishness in the world and even good people make mistakes, which is why it is important to pay close attention to what is happening around one’s close surroundings. There is a connection between the story and the city in this film and it can be seen from the scene at the beginning of the film and Patrick’s line: “I always believed it was the things you don't choose that makes you who you are. Your city, your neighborhood, your family. People here take pride in these things, like it was something they'd accomplished” (Ben Affleck, Gone Baby Gone). The society shapes personalities, but a person needs to have their own integrity and a sense of morality. Being selfish is not the solution even if the intentions are good and this can be seen in the film. Captain Jack Doyle believes that he is doing the right thing by taking the little girl, Amanda from her mother, but in reality, he is depriving the child from her biological mother who cares about her and he is also fulfilling his wish to have a daughter after he lost one. A mother should not be deprived of her own child unless it is for the benefit of the child which is a decision that the Social service makes and not individuals who think they know best. People have to abide by the law so that the world could function in an orderly manner. There are flaws everywhere, people have flaws and law has them as well, but it is still the best concept which should be applied to the life in a community. It may be hard to watch something a person thinks is unjust, but they cannot change things without doing it properly, which involves the police and the system of justice. There are people, like Captain Jack Doyle who would like to make the world a better place by causing anarchy and there are also people like Patrick who abide by the law at all costs. It is important to listen to one’s own conscience and to do what is right. Jack says to Patrick: “I did what I did for the sake of the child. All right. For me, too. But now, I'm asking you for the sake of the child. I'm begging you. You think about it” (Ben Affleck, Gone Baby Gone). Being selfish is not the solution for any problem and there will always be people who are aware of the fact that law exists for a reason and that civilization is based on it even though it may seem illogical. There is always just one right thing to do and it is not always the easiest decision to make.
Gone Baby Gone is also a movie about people who care and who prevent crimes from happening. It could jeopardize their own life, career and make them question whether they really did what was right, but their conscience is clear because there are rules in this world for a reason. Rules are strict when it comes to children and a mother is the most important person in the life of a child. “In planning further for the infant’s life the first care must be to give the mother peace and respite from the too constant pressure of household duties: absence of tension in her is one of the conditions for a happy and affectionate relation between the two” (Mumford, 1968, 26). This can be applied to the scene in the film when the mother, Helene is worried about her daughter Amanda and wants her back although she does not show it. People who are merely observers think that they have the right to interfere in this special relationship, but even parents can make mistakes and they should be given the chance to correct them. Everybody has to be given a second chance because that is what sympathy is about and people are not perfect which is why they should let other people choose the right path even if they made mistakes in the past. Being caring includes caring about the wellbeing of people who make mistakes, not only about children who are innocent. Children are young and they need to be taken care of, but adults are also entitled to be wrong and to be given a chance for redemption because it is possible and people need to understand what compassion is about. Being considerate and compassionate is a prerogative for being a human being capable of forgiveness. It is in human nature to be wrong at times, but nobody deserves to be punished in a cruel way because of that. The scenes in the film when Helene is obviously suffering and saying that she would be a better mother if she got her child back are crucial for understanding the concept of forgiveness. No parent should go through the pain of thinking that their child is dead if it is not the truth.
Lying is never the answer even if a person thinks that it is for a good cause because nobody has the right to be the sole judge of what is right and what is wrong. “The images and sounds of the city found in movies are perhaps the only experiences that many of the world’s residents ever realize of cities they have not been to and may never do” (Alsayyad, 2000, 268). In the movie Gone Baby Gone, the city is also the character because there are rules in the neighborhood where the story takes place. It is important to be righteous and moral in all situations and at all costs. Being righteous costs Patrick his emotional relationship with his girlfriend because they have different views of the world the system of justice. However, if a person wants to live at peace with themselves, than they should listen only to their conscience. The closing scene of the film is crucial because Patrick stays with Amanda, the little girl to babysit her because her mother is irresponsible in spite of loving her. There is always the cost of doing the right thing because there are two sides to every story, but it is important to be faithful to one’s own ideals and to keep the peace of mind because at the end of the day it is all the matter of a person’s soul and a clear mind. It cannot be right to live with a guilty conscience and that is the path where lying takes people.
Gone Baby Gone is a movie about corruption, selfishness and taking justice into one’s own hands and this is not in accordance with any law. Law was created by humans for humans and that order has to be taken care of so that there should be justice in the world. people are merely sheep who live with wolves according to religion and they gave to be wise and innocent at the same time. Children are a blessing and they have to be taken care of because they are never guilty of anything and deserve only the best. This film is about people who show selfishness by trying to do what is right and about people who question whether sacrificing their own happiness is worth doing the right thing. In the end, it turns out that the world is not black and white and that people have to do things they do not approve of in order to maintain peace.
Affleck, Ben, dir. Gone Baby Gone. Miramax, 2007. Film.
Mumford, Lewis. The Urban Prospect. San Diego: A Harvest/HBJ Book, 1968. Print.
Alsayyad, Nezar. "The Cinematic City: Between Modernist Utopia and Postmodernist Dystopia." Built Environment 26.4 (2000): 268-81. Print.