The City and Its People, Movie Review Example

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Movie Review

In the movie “Gone, Baby, Gone”, Boston in its entirety is reconstructed from the pieces that represent each character’s reality .  In the textbook, the author explains that different people have different images of the city they live in, according to their own experiences (175).   This is true in the case of the movie examined in this paper.  Boston is a city of contrasts, where the poor neighborhoods seem a different world than that outside their boundaries. In the movie, Patrick Kenzie is able to discover the truth about Amanda because he knows that part of the city, and its people, who were shaped by their environment and in the same time, shaped their environment to correspond to their lived experiences.

The city film is a movie genre that emerged at the beginning of the twentieth century (Mennel 21) and shows the city as a crucial piece of the narrative.  In city movies, urbanism is defined as essential to the problems described in the movie. For example, Boston is a city that has been the location of many violent movies, including gangster and crime  films (For example, Departed(2006), or the HBO series The Wire. Such films present different parts of Boston and offer certain views of the city. The movie “gone Baby Gone” presents little Amanda’s kidnapping as a result of social problems (bad parenting, drug addiction, alcoholism, crime) that characterizes the Bostonian poor neighborhoods.

The movie is narrated through the eyes of Patrick Kenzie, whose voice is heard over the narration at the beginning of the movie. He argues that the city in which one lives, and the neighborhood in which one grew up mold his or her identity and define who that person is. This speech is mingled with scenes of the life of the neighborhood. The neighborhood is not presented empty. It is shown during the day, and it is filled with people of all races and religions and ages who seem not to share anything except their living in the same area of Boston. They do share something though: they have the same image of the city.  They see themselves as products of the part of the town they live in and their roots allow them to define themselves in relation to their neighborhood.

Patrick Kenzie, for example, is able to get more information about the missing girl than the cops because he is a member of the community, he is a piece of the network that connects the dwellers of that particular part of Boston.  People trust them because they know him, or they know someone who knows him. He talks like them; he knows the same people they know and is familiar with the same places. They share the same view of the city.  Kenzie is connected to each of the neighborhood dwellers in one way or another. He even knows the Helene and Cheese and therefore, is able to connect with them.  On the other hand, the police officers are not welcomed in the neighborhood as he is. When trying to negotiate Amanda’s release with cheese, Kenzie asks the police officers to remain outside because he knows Cheese and knows how to approach him. Moreover, Angie points out that the police officers would scare Cheese. This is because they are representatives of another world and do not have the same worldview as Cheese.

The manner in which each individual reports to the city, and defines himself in relation to the city is underlined in the movie, in an exchange between Kenzie and officer Remy Bressant.  Asking him  about the origin of the name Bressant (which sounds French), Kenzie finds out that the police officer is from Louisiana. He seems surprised to discover this detail:

Kenzie: Oh yeah? I though you are from here.

Bressant: Well, it all depends on how you look at it. I mean, you might think that you are more from here than me, for example. But I lived here longer than you’ve been alive. So who’s right?

This exchange reveals an interesting fact on the psychology of the city dwellers. They take pride in their belonging to the city (as Kenzie also notices at the beginning of the movie) and want to be identified as belonging to it. Whether their ancestry or their experience as Boston dwellers is more important is controversial. The fact that Kenzie’s family is from Boston is important because he has relatives in the town, and there are people who knew (or knoew) his family. He can name places in the city which are important for him and his family for some reason or another, and may feel more connected to the city. On the other hand, officer Bressant oes not have this deep connection. Nevertheless, he has more experience as a city dweller than Kenzie, due to their age difference. His experience within the city range identifies him as Bostonian.

The connection between people living in the same area is extremely important. People feel responsible when something  occurs close to them, in the same area, or neighborhood and feel more eager to help, even though they may not be connected to the victim in any other way than the fact that they are neighbors. For example, in the news material on Amanda’s kidnapping, Dotty, Helen’s

Best friend explains that “the neighborhood is really coming together” and that “the neighborhood is all alert, everybody is alert of what’s going on”.  Dottie thus refers to the community as the neighborhood itself and this reveals the degree to which being part of a certain neighborhood is important for its dwellers.

Images of the city include both daylight and night sceneries. Daylight images are split between images of the people living in the city, dynamic, alive and warm, and of the industrial area which seems cold and deserted.  The first image we see is that of a young woman from the neighborhood and the image of the same woman is presented to us at the end, as a suggestion that nothing ever changes in the city.  Night images contrast powerfully with those presented by day. At night, the city is beautiful, tranquil and silent. Night images present skyscrapers that glitter powerfully on the night sky. These images are those of a different Boston, with tall buildings, where rich people live. They are those who watch the news on TV, who know another side of Boston who never  get to have the same experiences as those presented to us within the movie. The buildings from Amanda’s neighborhood are short, and in ruin. One powerful contrast is also the one between Amanda’s home and that of the officer who kidnaps her. Surrounded by woods, in a peaceful and isolated location, the house seems idyllic and unreal, as a corner of paradise.

These different images of the city are presented to us through the eyes of the characters. Each piece of the city (the one with ruined buildings, the one with skyscrapers, and the one with the idyllic house in the forest) combine with the rest to create Boston itself (Textbook 175).  These pieces are seen through the eyes of each of the characters, who can only understand their own reality and connect to the people that see the same things they do. Boston then, is for each of these character a different city.

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