Who's in It:
Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, John Ashton, Amy Ryan, Amy Madigan, Titus Welliver
The Basics: A child is kidnapped from a negligent mother in a blue-collar Boston suburb. Two independent private detectives are brought in by the child's distraught grandmother. The police aren't happy about this; neither are the local drug dealers for some reason; the neighborhood pedophile's not too happy with the situation either. And that's as many details as I can give without ruining this already convoluted, breathe-on-it-too-hard-and-it-gets-knocked-over movie.
What's the Deal? Which is not to say that it's bad. Based on a novel by Denis Lehane, it's obvious that the screenwriter and director (that would be Ben Affleck) has something to prove in the making of a movie that's as twisty and turny and as much of a deep-down bummer as this one is (and you'd probably feel that way too if you were Ben Affleck). It's not just a movie it's a bid to be taken seriously, to shake Gigli and "You were the bomb in Phantoms, yo" off his back forever. And because it mostly succeeds, now that he's got this and that good under-seen performance in Hollywoodland under his belt, he can hold his head high again.
Sometimes Nepotism Doesn't Make You Frank Stallone: Yes, he cast his little brother in the lead. But you know what? Check out Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford before you goof on that fact. He carries this whole movie (along with the really appealing and not-at-all-deserving-of-The Heartbreak Kid Monaghan) along and keeps you worried and sad from beginning to end.
Other Breakthrough: Ryan. Right, I'd never bothered to learn her name either, even though she's been in lots of stuff. Here, she's the nightmarishly stupid coke whore of a mom who's lost her baby, delivering a performance so repellent that you'll find yourself rooting against her. They need to invent an Oscar for Most Uncomfortably Unpleasant Supporting Actress. I'll remember her name from now on.
Who Should See It: People who hated Mystic River. Or maybe people who loved Mystic River. I can't make up my mind.