Movie Review
Mystic River
Mystic River poster
By Craig Younkin     Published October 17, 2003
US Release: October 8, 2003

Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Sean Penn , Tim Robbins , Kevin Bacon , Laurence Fishburne

Running Time: 137 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $90,135,000
A powerfully written, acted, and directed film that is as horrifying as it is thrilling to watch.
Mystic River falls into a category I like to call the ?male? drama. Much along the lines of Barry Levinson's ?Sleepers,? this movie begins with the loss of childhood innocence and then continues onward into a murky abyss. This is a powerfully written, acted, and directed film that is as horrifying as it is thrilling to watch.

?Mystic River? is directed by Clint Eastwood, whose violence issues have been a focal point in his movies. Although some of his previous efforts have not been very good (including the horrible ?Blood Work?), his fans always knew he would come back to doing films such as ?A Perfect World? and the unforgettable ?Unforgiven.? And in ?Mystic River,? he has his most accomplished effort to date.

This is a film that stays with you long after you leave the theater. It begins in a small Massachusetts town where the lives of three boys: Sean, Dave, and Jimmy (all of which are only eleven years old) will be changed forever. While playing on the street, Dave is abducted by a man who poses as a cop, and Dave is forced into performing sexual acts ? he is never the same again.

Years later, Dave (Tim Robbins) and Jimmy (Sean Penn) are both husbands and fathers, while Sean (Kevin Bacon) is a police detective going through a rough time in the love department. They are not as close as they used to be, but all that changes when Jimmy's daughter is found murdered in her car; Sean is the lead detective on the case and Dave is the prime suspect.

In addition to the murder mystery already presented, writer Brian Helgeland has also crafted a deep human drama where the elements of the past all come full circle into the present. His dialogue is some of the finest I've heard any actor speak this year ? Helgeland really taps into each character's emotions and conveys them in a way that seems so truthful and moving.

But really, when you have a cast like this, anything sounds good. The two leaders here have got to be Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. Penn's delivery as a grieving father is superb ? he captures this man's pain and anguish and gives a performance of really unexpected force. And Robbins gives his best performances to date here ? everything from his body language to his delivery, he portrays a man who doesn't even appear to have a soul anymore. You get a sense of where this man is at mentally, and it is a dark and scary place to be; both of these performances definitely deserve Oscar nominations.

Kevin Bacon is also very good in his role, even though the character is not as well developed as the previous two. Sean is given a very weak subplot about an ex-wife, but other than that we really learn nothing personal about the character. Where Bacon is really allowed to shine is when he and Laurence Fishburne are together. The Fishburne character becomes very important, as he is the only one who doesn?t have prior connections with the victim's father or the key suspect ? this makes their relationship (as well as the case) a lot more interesting.

Eastwood does a great job of making this one of the most intense and lasting films of 2003. In a way this movie is the anti-Kill Bill, a film that shows the true horror and loss that violence causes.
Craig's Grade: A-
Craig's Overall Grading: 340 graded movies
Share, Bookmark
'Mystic River' Articles
  • Lee's review B
    October 12, 2003    One powerhouse of a film that will likely linger with the viewer long after the ending credits roll. -- Lee Tistaert