Gone Baby Gone is my favorite of Dennis Lehane’s novels, which is saying a great deal. Fan of series that I am, I especially enjoy his series books about detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Genero, of which this one is (in my opinion) the best. I missed the movie when it was released (briefly) in theaters, but I finally rented it from Netflix and watched it this past weekend.

The movie is very faithful to the book. Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Genero (Michelle Monaghan) are called in by the family to investigate the high profile disappearance of a little girl, kidnapped while her drug user/alcoholic mother was distracted. In cooperation with the police, they follow various leads, trying to pry the lid off a story that seems at once too neat, and infested with too many loose ends. The final payoff prompts a heartbreaking choice for Kenzie.

It’s a well-done movie, worthy of its source. The performances are excellent, the Boston locations perfect. I think (my memory may be fooling me) that the final crisis may have been presented with more ambivalence in the book. As it stands here, Kenzie’s ultimate decision seems a little hard to understand.

I don’t remember the language in the book being as rough as it was in the movie. I suspect that’s only because it’s less jarring on the page than when the words actually fall on your ears in your own living room.

But I wonder if that didn’t contribute to the movie’s lackluster box office performance.

Somebody (it may have been Michael Medved, or one of his guests) has pointed out that there’s really no economic incentive for film makers to use a lot of profanity in their movies.

Other vices have (let’s admit it) market appeal. A sex scene with a nude actress will admittedly sell tickets. Extreme, graphic violence will put lots of bodies in theater seats.

But nobody thinks, “Boy! I sure want to see this movie! I’ll get to hear a lot of F Bombs!”

I suppose the makers of Gone Baby Gone would have felt they were selling out if they’d toned the language down. But I have an idea they might have made money by it.