Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gone Baby Gone is more than a movie

Let me preface by saying that while I write fiction, I am not a book reviewer. I believe that one has to be a seasoned veteran as a novelist or even a journalist to have the needed credibility to review a book or novel. And yes, knowing the difference helps! So I'm not going to review a novel or movie in this post, but instead just give some thoughts.

That being said, I was reading USA Today last week and happened upon an article about a movie coming out on October 19th called Gone Baby Gone - written and directed by Ben Affleck and starring his brother, Casey.

I've known about this project for some time, as I have closely followed the career of Dennis Lehane. You see you'd need to read the second page of the article to know that while the screenplay was adapted (written) by Affleck, it is based on a novel of the same name by Boston native and bestselling author, Lehane. Perhaps most of you are saying Dennis who? Fair enough, but you may recall a little movie from a few years back that grabbed a few Oscars - Mystic River. Mystic River was Lehane's breakthrough novel and was published a few years after this newest of adaptations. In speaking with Dennis at a writing conference the year the movie came out, he talked about his time on the set and his involvement with the production. The fact he was involved is actually not the norm for a movie being adapted. Usually the rights are sold and the producers and directors have the freedom to hatchet away, but this didn't happen to Dennis with Mystic River. While the movie isn't exactly like the novel, it's pretty true to form. Kudos to Clint Eastwood and the screenwriting for saving the integrity.

My point (If I really even have one) is that I urge people to read the novel Gone Baby Gone before you start hearing the hoopla. Yes, the story touches the lives of many Americans, especially those with young children, but I am ever-fearful of such adaptations. Not that I think either Affleck would do an injustice to the novel. Both are friends with Lehane and Boston natives as well, but sometimes Hollywood has an influence that even a hot young director can't control. The subject matter is in no way light-hearted, nor is Lehane's writing. While Gone Baby Gone is actually the 4th in a five-novel detective series, it's power in character development, setting, honesty, and pure story-telling talent makes it one of my favorite thrillers I've read.

Once you read Dennis Lehane, you may become addicted. Or like me, you may aspire to be a writer, but that's for another time and post. For more info on Dennie Lehane and all his work, checkout his website.