A four-year-old girl, the daughter of a drug-addicted woman and a resident of one of the toughest and most dangerous neighborhoods in Boston, has mysteriously disappeared. Fed up with how the police are ineffective and ineffective in solving the case, the family turns to two experienced private detectives played by Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan. Unknowingly, by accepting the job these researchers are headed for a dark and bleak journey.
There isn’t much room for hope in ‘Bye Bye Little Girl’, a superb adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel that repeatedly shows its penchant for sordid stories of disappearance and trauma in Massachusetts town. That is why it pairs well with ‘Mystic River‘, though its light film noir finish and less melodramatic complexity are well-proportioned differences for Ben Affleck, who kicks off his brand-new directing career in this film.
Available to view via SkyShowtime, this film was the first argument made in favor of Affleck as a creative figure behind the cameras rather than in front of them. A film that established his preference for old-school thrillers, sometimes with noir details (although better suggested than addressed directly, as in the failed ‘Live at night’), told with a powerful professionalism that knows how to prioritize history.
The film, even touching on something as hopeless as a consumed city and the disappearance of a still innocent girl, with even darker twists that better not reveal, manages to captivate by its way of being told, which manages to fill every corner with life. Affleck knows Boston through and through, and he manages to visually distinguish it from other cities, making it feel like another crucial element of the story in the process.
And the same what the city comes alive, so do a number of characters who always contribute to the story even if they aren’t necessarily advancing the plot. It helps that they are well planned, but they are intriguing to follow thanks to a wonderfully chosen cast. Affleck usually surrounds himself with good actors in all of his films, showing his hefty schedule but also his eye to select performers even if they are out of his comfort zone, and that helps no character feel out of place. .
‘Goodbye little girl, goodbye’: heartbreaking human drama
There is well-handled intrigues, which is probably what many prioritize in an investigation and disappearance thriller, but what makes this film truly superb and intelligent is its handling of the human drama. Affleck finds a way to explore it with immense sobriety, with a script that doesn’t dodge the most uncomfortable and complex aspects of the original story and a narration from the direction cleverly contained.
It’s hard to make a better debut as a director, showing an ability to make both adult entertainment and heartwarming and bitter purely American cinema. With ‘AIR’ he deviates from those dark paths, although he does not stop showing that Affleck is a filmmaker with a talent for counting and emotionally moving the public. And it all started in the best way with ‘Bye-bye little girl, bye-bye’.
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