Forgive him for Gigli. Ben Affleck’s directorial debut reveals the B-list actor to be a storyteller of surprising depth and complexity. Brother Casey Affleck (of Jesse James) stars as Patrick Kenzie, a baby-faced amateur sleuth pressed, along with partner Michelle Monaghan, to help the stymied cops (helmed by Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris) find a kidnapped four-year-old girl named Amanda. The Afflecks are at home on the streets of Boston; the atmosphere has a lazy chaos perfectly incarnated in Amanda’s single mom Helene, whose fierce love for her daughter doesn’t preclude zoned-out afternoons snorting coke and swilling booze. But the tragic twist in this gutwrencher based on crime novelist Dennis Lehane’s (Mystic River) bestseller is that the gangs find the girl’s abductors too soon, setting off a chain of tricky, violent, and hopeless choices that guarantee Patrick will never again have a good night’s sleep—and that the audience will debate his decisions long into the evening. Ironically, this promising start to Affleck’s latest career is strongest when it takes a hard look at a culture of people with no dreams at all, the folks so low on the social ladder, they can’t even imagine climbing up.