by Marcus Sakey
As everybody who reads my stuff probably knows, I admire the work of novelist Dennis Lehane. He's most famous for Mystic River; since then, he's released a novel and a collection of short stories, both dynamite, and has been writing for HBO's The Wire, arguably the most important television program of the last decade. But like many of his fans, I came to know him first through a series of PI novels featuring two Boston detectives, Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro.
Patrick and Angie are great characters, and the blue-collar Boston they wander through is beautifully evoked. More importantly, like the best of any fiction, there's the story, and then there's the point, and in the course of their investigations, Lehane's private eyes wrestle with issues ranging from political corruption to gang warfare to child abuse. It's a terrific series, gritty and intelligent.
So two or three years ago, when I read that the film rights to Gone, Baby, Gone, one of the best of the bunch, had been bought by Miramax, I was excited. And I was even more excited to learn that the company that would be producing, LivePlanet, was founded by Ben Affleck. Besides starring in the occasional movie — maybe you've seen him? — Affleck is a great writer and a diehard Boston boy, so I figured if anybody could get it right, it was him.
Well, on Wednesday, I had the opportunity to catch the Chicago premiere at the Music Box. And I'm here to tell you, he more than got it right. He knocked it out of the park. We're talking little-gold-statue knocked it out. Relentlessly intelligent, morally uncompromising, and gripping as hell. The direction is gorgeous. The screenwriting is impeccable. Casey Affleck absolutely kills as Patrick Kenzie, not an easy feat when your co-stars include Ed Harris, Michelle Monaghan, and Morgan Freeman.
All of which made me happy for a couple of reasons. But the biggest is this: last week, LivePlanet and Miramax bought the film rights to my first novel. Affleck is slated to produce, and Aaron Stockard, who co-wrote Gone, Baby, Gone, is going to be doing the adaptation.
Suffice it to say there's been a lot of happy jumping around at Casa Sakey.
Of course, there are a million steps between here and there. But whether or not things work, I couldn't be more thrilled with the deal, and the people involved. I was excited before I saw the film; now I'm straight giddy.
And I promise, my take on Gone, Baby, Gone wasn't skewed even a little bit. It really is that good. The film opens October 19th--if you like intense dramas that engage both brain and balls, I can't recommend it highly enough.