Do or Do Not.

Affleck To Direct Lehane’s Gone, Baby, Gone

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Just to prove that I have an interest in movies that aren’t based on comic books, I now give you a bit of info about an upcoming movie based on a crime novel, instead.

Variety reports that Ben Affleck will apparently make his directorial debut by helming an adaptation of Dennis Lehane‘s Gone, Baby, Gone, one of Lehane’s excellent series of novels featuring the South Boston detective duo of Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. But Affleck won’t actually be appearing in the movie himself.

I’ve been wondering when someone was going to get around to making one of the Kenzie-Gennaro books into a movie, especially given the phenomenal success of Mystic River. I’ve only read two of the five thus far (Prayers for Rain and A Drink Before the War; Gone, Sacred and Darkness, Take My Hand are the others) and enjoyed both of them immensely. Lehane has a terrific feel for character and dialogue and keeps his pacing fast and tight and his suspense high, and both of the books I’ve read just felt like they’d make good flicks. And though he became a Hollywood name with Mystic River, I get the sense that these modern hard-boiled detective stories are what keeps his heart.

While I’m not surprised Affleck picked this movie as the one to use as his first project as a director, what does suprise me is that he’s not casting himself as Patrick Kenzie. For all of the mocking Affleck gets these days, it’s really less his acting that’s been the problem with his career than his choice of parts (or his inability to choose–he seems to subscribe to Michael Caine’s “I never met a script I didn’t like” philosophy) and his choice of near-spouses. He can act, at least competently, when he’s got a part that calls for it, and Kenzie’s a perfect part for him: self-effacing, not as tough as he pretends to be, surprisingly caring for a noir-ish gumshoe, and a Southie to boot. I can picture him in the role easily. Does he not want to overextend himself by acting in the first movie he’s directing? If so, I can understand that, though I feel compelled to point out how well recent history shows Zach Braff did in Garden State, also his first directing gig–and he wrote the thing, too. (Hmm, Ben’s got an Oscar on his mantle for co-writing Good Will Hunting…maybe he’ll take a stab at the screenplay, too?)

Another bit of weirdness is that Gone isn’t the first of the Kenzie-Gennaro novels, though for the most part I don’t think the order matters a whole lot; to the best of my knowledge, to date only one has had major status-quo shattering impact on the next, so if Gone is successful they could easily pick up with whichever one of the other books seemed like the best bet.

Anyway, I’m tentatively looking forward to this one, pending cast and screenplay announcements. And I can at least take comfort in the fact that Gone, Baby, Gone should be less depressing than Mystic River.

Written by Allen

March 23rd, 2005 at 5:40 pm

Posted in General

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