Film: Mystic River

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Film:

Mystic River

Director: Clint Eastwood
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Warner Home Video

Superior acting, writing, and direction are on impressive display in the critically acclaimed Mystic River, Clint Eastwood’s 24th directorial outing and one of the finest films of 2003. Sharply adapted by L.A. Confidential Oscar-winner Brian Helgeland from the novel by Dennis Lehane, this chilling mystery revolves around three boyhood friends in working-class Boston—played as adults by Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, and Kevin Bacon—drawn together by a crime from the past and a murder (of the Penn character’s 19-year-old daughter) in the present. These dual…

Reviews

Amazon.com

Superior acting, writing, and direction are on impressive display in the critically acclaimed Mystic River, Clint Eastwood’s 24th directorial outing and one of the finest films of 2003. Sharply adapted by L.A. Confidential Oscar-winner Brian Helgeland from the novel by Dennis Lehane, this chilling mystery revolves around three boyhood friends in working-class Boston—played as adults by Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, and Kevin Bacon—drawn together by a crime from the past and a murder (of the Penn character’s 19-year-old daughter) in the present. These dual tragedies arouse a vicious cycle of suspicion, guilt, and repressed anxieties, primed to explode with devastating and unpredictable results. Eastwood is perfectly in tune with this brooding material, giving his flawless cast (including Laura Linney, Marcia Gay Harden and Laurence Fishburne) ample opportunity to plumb the depths of a resonant human tragedy, leading to an ambiguous ending that qualifies Mystic River for contemporary classic status. —Jeff Shannon

Barnes and Noble

This gripping, suspenseful drama has some of the trappings of a whodunit, but Mystic River isn’t a murder mystery—it’s a multilayered exploration of the human psyche that eschews easy explanations and pat answers. It’s a story without readily definable heroes or villains: The principal characters are all flawed in one way or another, and they are so skillfully represented as to be recognizable and real. That’s a tribute not only to the exemplary cast but also to director Clint Eastwood, whose sure-handed guidance keeps the actors sharply focused and prevents their emotionally charged performances from bubbling over with melodramatic excess. Brian Helgeland’s masterful adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel begins in the working-class Boston neighborhood where ex-con Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn) runs a corner grocery store. When his teenage daughter (Emmy Rossum) is found brutally murdered, Jimmy recruits his thuggish friends in an attempt to ferret out the killer and exact vengeance before homicide detective and childhood pal Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon) can apprehend the culprit. Suspicion falls on another old friend, Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins), an emotionally crippled handyman who was abused as a child, but both Jimmy and Sean are initially reluctant to believe their former classmate capable of murder. Mystic River isn’t an easy film to digest, as it often evokes tremendous pain and seems at times to wallow in tragedy. It traffics in unspoken secrets, repressed guilt, and tribal loyalties. Penn and Robbins richly deserved the Oscars they won for their portrayals, and the little gold statuettes could have been awarded to the other cast members with equal justification. One of those rare movies that stands up to repeated viewings with undiminished effect, Mystic River deserves a place in every DVD home library. Ed Hulse

Related Works

Album:Mystic River: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Mystic River: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Clint Eastwood

He’s been an international movie star icon, successful producer, acclaimed director, and fervent jazz revivalist. But after years of cinemusic flirtations, Clint Eastwood finally adds “film scorer” to his already burgeoning resume. Those familiar with his jazz affections and a laconic keyboard approach that seems to echo his very acting style won’t be surprised by the elegantly moody “Main Title” he’s composed for this character-driven drama. But the autumnal, minimalist, and post-modern influenced orchestral cues (performed with sympathetic grace by the Boston…

Book:Mystic River: A Novel

Mystic River: A Novel

Dennis Lehane

When they were children, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus, and Dave Boyle were friends. But then a strange car drove up their street. One boy got in the car, two did not, and something terrible happened—something that ended their friendship and changed all three boys forever. Twenty-five years later, Sean is a homicide detective. Jimmy is an ex-con. And Dave is trying to hold his marriage together and keep his demons at bay-demons that urge him to do horrific things.

When Jimmy’s daughter is found murdered, Sean is assigned to the case. His investigation brings him into serious conflict with Jimmy. And then there is Dave, who came home covered in someone else’s blood the night Jimmy’s daughter died. While Sean attempts to use the law to return peace and order to the neighborhood, Jimmy finds his need for vengeance pushing him ever closer to a moral abyss from which he won’t be able to return.

A tense and unnerving psychological thriller, Mystic River is also an epic novel of love, loyalty, faith, and family.

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