CRIME DRAMA; 1hr 54min
STARRING: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan
Partners in crime: Monaghan and Affleck
Dennis Lehane (Mystic River ) writes tough thrillers based in a hardscrabble Boston, where getting by is the bottom line. Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard’s astute adaptation of this tight-knit Lehane mystery pulls no atmospheric punches: Affleck’s directorial first is suitably gritty and direct.
The subject of the layer-peeling is an abducted four-year-old girl whose disappearance marks the start of a hazardous investigative trail. Casey Affleck, a Boston boy like brother Ben, plays streetwise private investigator Patrick Kenzie who, with his girlfriend and partner Angie Gennaro (Monaghan), is hired to delve where police cannot — into an ugly and squalid local scene.
The direction, performances (Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris are careworn cops) and cinematography (by John Toll) are a potent fit. And if their shared journey lacks the slam-dunk impact of Mystic River, it is involving and provocative on its own, ethically challenging terms and a prime first for its director, whose instincts behind the camera are as acute as his brother’s in front of it.