Ben Affleck finds comfort in working-class Boston from a novel by Mystic River scribe Dennis Lehane.
The actor, here director and co-scenarist, invests much into the motivations behind the potential kidnapping of a four-year-old girl.
As he did in writing Good Will Hunting with Matt Damon, Affleck, who rebounded from his off-screen woes with a fine turn in Hollywoodland, expresses vivid details in character and location.
One, in particular, being Patrick Kenzie, played with effective subtlety by the director's young sibling, Casey Affleck.
Patrick is a boyish investigator who is joked about reading Harry Potter and modestly lives with colleague and lover, Angie, played by Michelle Monaghan, more incisive than she was in the raunchy, less bittersweet Heartbreak Kid.
An aunt and uncle (Amy Madigan, Titus Welliver) get Patrick and Angie up early one morning to look into the vanishing of niece Amanda. She had been living in an apartment with single mother Helene, authenticated as a problematic parent by Amy Ryan, and not seen in three days.
Madigan's unsettled Bea wants Patrick and a reticient Angie to dig into this matter, as this hot news item hasn't benefitted from the police investigation of Capt. Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman, sagely bemused in Feast of Love).
Patrick works on his sources, as a wary Doyle allows the romantic detectives to accompany his veterans on the force, acted by John Ashton, and especially well by Ed Harris.
The screenplay adapted by Affleck and Aaron Stockard appears to link the timeline of Amanda with the loss of a great sum of money of a brutish drug dealer. Soon, an odd bartering occurs as the case appears to be wrapped up, but something troubles Patrick as how he acts on the truth leads Gone Baby Gone to its conclusion. It may bother more than a few on the resolution of the moral ambiguity which isn't as poignantly felt as in Mystic River. Yet, Ben works sharply with cast and crew, especially Casey in making something sensitive shine in the face of closeness and foreboding.