Ben Affleck has announced that he will postpone the release of his directorial debut in the UK.
Many people would see this as a cause for celebration. After all, this is the man responsible for life-sapping lead-roles in Pearl Harbor, Daredevil and Gigli, as well as being half of the word “Bennifer”.
But now it suddenly seems that he has a depth to his real-life character that has been obviously lacking in his screen performances.
The film, Gone Baby Gone, which, reportedly, is both eminently watchable and credibly serious, centres on a four-year-old girl who disappears when her mother leaves her alone in the house.
The actress playing the four-year-old in the film, Madeline O’Brien, not only shares the same name, but also bears a striking resemblance to Madeleine McCann.
At the Deauville Film Festival in France, Affleck said:
“We have a greater concern for [the situation] than the release of our film, which is just a commercial matter, whereas this is a matter of life and death” - a statement that would surely have had the money-men spitting their $25 Mochaccinos all over their $4,000 suits.
It is a suitably restrained statement by Affleck. There is no moralising, no hand-wringing, no offerings of the film’s profits to young-blonde-girl kidnap charities - just a straightforward statement saying that perhaps it is not the right time to release the film in Britain.
But is this a good decision? Can a real life incident, however tragic, really dictate issues that have no direct bearing upon it? Where do the boundaries between real life and entertainment meet and should they ever be crossed?
Before United 93 was released, there was an outcry that it would be using the memories of the 9/11 dead for commercial gain.
Call me cynical, but surely newspapers have been doing exactly the same thing with the McCann story from the moment Madeleine went missing?