Anthony's Film Review

Mystic River (2003)

Underneath this crime thriller is a dark, chilling portrait of shattered lives...

Mystic River is one of those movies where it has great appeal for different kinds of fans. If you love Clint Eastwood as a director, you will love this film. You will also enjoy Mystic River if you are a fan of the novelist Dennis Lehane, who wrote the novel Mystic River. Even if you are neither of these, it's OK. All you really need to be is someone who appreciates a quality film. With a great cast, director, and script, you cannot go wrong with Mystic River.

The story centers on three friends: Jimmy (Sean Penn), Dave (Tim Robbins), and Sean (Kevin Bacon). As children, they play in the streets of Boston. One day, they scribble their names into a section of wet cement on the sidewalk. A cop pulls over, catching them in the act. He convinces two of the boys to come with him to the police station. When the third tells his father about this incident, there is an immediate sense that something is wrong.

This is the first tragedy of the movie. This so-called cop is really a child molester. Both Jimmy and Dave suffer psychological trauma, but as the film progresses, we see that Dave is the one who is truly the most scarred. Now we go into the present day. Jimmy runs a liquor store, Dave lives with his wife, and Sean works as a cop. At this point, only a couple of minutes of the film have passed. Yet, it presents a very dark and disturbing setup.

Then the second tragedy comes. Jimmy's daughter is found murdered. He arrives at the crime scene, demanding to see his daughter. He struggles to get to the victim's body while Boston PD officers hold him at bay. In a memorable camera shot from above, we see Jimmy crying his heart out, trapped by both his grief and the surrounding cops.

From here, two kinds of stories are launched. One is a crime thriller, focusing on Sean. The other is a human drama that centers mostly on Jimmy and Dave. While you can't have one without the other, the drama portion is the real movie here. The characters hold onto heavy baggage, both from the past and the present. What makes it heartbreaking are the performances by Sean Penn and Tim Robbins, both well-deserved winners of the Oscar for this movie.

Mystic River is not about hope but the absence of it. It illustrates the everlasting power of tragedy. One life-shattering moment could lead to another, and then we're left wondering whether the cycle would continue. This theme comes alive with the characters, the direction, and the script. Clint Eastwood deserves a standing ovation for this heart-wrenching masterpiece. He also reminds us that characters and their feelings are very important. Only by relating to them ourselves can we truly experience movie magic.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Mystic River, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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