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Mystic River (2003)

  Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Written by: Brian Helgeland, Dennis Lehane
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins
Links: Mystic River on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy the Book
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 7.50 (2 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 81st of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Mystic River (2003) is also mentioned in em_fiction's review of 21 Grams (2003), em_fiction's review of Dawn of the Dead (2004) and em_fiction's review of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).

"Title goes here" - a review by pearly

Usually, I'm interested in films like this. Usually, I'll see a preview for a movie that's got some big names involved with it, names like Clint Eastwood, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and I'll think "yep, that looks like one to check out". I may not even have any real fascination with the contents of the film itself, it's just that I like seeing movies, so I'm willing to take a chance.

For some reason though, Mystic River held none of this appeal. It was only after hearing comments from friends that I thought "well, okay then, maybe I should be seeing this", and I mosied on over to the cinema to check it out when it had been relegated to one session per day.

Maybe it is this history that left me so apathetic towards Mystic River, but to me, it was above average, but only slightly so. Some great actors took part, but none of them pushed this film up the ladder as far as these same actors could have. Certainly not worthy of being counted in the top 250 films of all time, which is where it resides on the IMDb as I write this review.

It's about three childhood friends: Jimmy (Sean Penn), Dave (Tim Robbins), and Sean (Kevin Bacon). When they were kids, Dave was kidnapped and held hostage for a little while; he hasn't been the same since. Jimmy is something of a career criminal, and is very protective of his daughters. Sean has become a cop, and is therefore usually at odds with Jimmy. They don't see much of one another anymore, but as this story unfolds, there begins to be reason for them to catch up. And it's not because of good news.

I am probably sounding too harsh. Mystic River is certainly a well-made and worthwhile film, but it failed to ignite any overwhelming interest in me. I appreciated it for what it was trying to be, but didn't believe that it actually managed to reach those heights it was aiming for. It certainly never made me cringe at any point, but it also never made me think "gee, that's amazing". Too bad.

pearly gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 18 Feb 2004

"Flowing down the Eastwood River" - a review by em_fiction

Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn), Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins) and Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon) were childhood friends in a Boston neighbourhood. Thirty years along the track, they've all gone their own separate ways. Jimmy owns a shop, still in the same area, and he's also the tough guy, if you like, of the group having spent time in prison. He's married to loving second wife, Annabeth (Laura Linney) and has an amorous flock of daughters. Dave, also living in the area, is married to devoted wife Celeste (Marcia Gay Harden) and has a young son. Having suffered an awful childhood experience of being abducted and molested, Dave has grown into a quiet, depressed and unstable man. One night, Jimmy's oldest daughter, Katie (Emmy Rossum) is found murdered and dumped in a park. Sean, now a detective, along with his slick partner Whitey (Laurence Fishburne) take on the case. Sean is also given the dreaded task of breaking the sad news to Jimmy. At the height of this tragedy, Sean, Jimmy and Dave are awkwardly reunited.

Clint Eastwood directs his twenty-fourth film and it qualifies as one of his best films ever. The film's mystery, essentially a 'whodunit', develops and unfolds along two separate paths. The first is between Jimmy, Dave and their families, where we witness the gradual building of sweaty-palm tension as the characters reflect upon one another and discover hidden feelings within themselves and others. The second path in the film follows Sean and Whitey's investigation. As they go around piecing evidence, questioning witnesses and developing theories, there was a definite reminiscence of Law & Order. Whereas the mystery evolves intuitively with Jimmy and Dave, it unfolds through fact and knowledge with Sean and Whitey.

The cast play their roles to perfection. The leads all give Oscar worthy performances - Sean Penn demonstrates tremendous confidence, Kevin Bacon is always good when given a proper role and as for Tim Robbins, well, I still see Andy Dufresne every time I look at him, so it's hard not to appreciate him as an actor. A surprising effective performance came from Spencer Treat Clark - the kid from Gladiator (2000) and Unbreakable (2000) - as the mute brother of Katie's secret boyfriend.

Part drama, part mystery, part thriller, this film comes very close to being this year's masterpiece. Mystic River is an intense, rarely predictable mystery that's both intelligent and realistic - definitely one of the best films of the year.

em_fiction gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 10 Dec 2003

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 7.50
Lowest rating: 7 (by pearly)
Highest rating: 8 (by em_fiction)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. See, I hate Clint Eastwood with a vengence, but he sort of did ok, I guess with this film. Sean Penn, deserved his Oscar. But Tim let me down, his, total, look at me Im messed up, attitude put me off his character, and made me not care about what happened to him. But all in all, worth watching.

    A comment from TomBomb on Wed 24 Mar 2004 09:16 #

  2. I thought Robbins played the role brilliantly. His characters behaviour was perfect,what happened all those years ago virtually ruined his life. The Sean Penn role was also excellent .I really hated the "Jimmy "character...and there was no justice at the end it appears .with Bacon being a "bent" cop

    Rating given: 8

    A comment from mark lockyer on Wed 13 Oct 2004 02:05 #

  3. clint eastwood is the man, we all know it. sean penn is realll good too,would have liked to of seen bill murray get the oscar, but what can you do. And i cant imagine why anyone would hate clint eastwood, cuz thats just stupid. But on to Tim, brilliant is a good word for it, gottaaaa love time. gots da.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from chris on Sat 05 Mar 2005 17:06 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.00 (2 ratings)

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