Film review: Mystic River (2003), directed by Clint Eastwood
CW: Mention of rape.
In the mid-1970s, three boys are playing in a Boston street. For two of them life goes on as normal. For the third life changes forever. He’s abducted by a couple of paedophiles and held captive for a few days before managing to escape.
25 years later, the three boys are all grown up and all still live in the area, except they’re not exactly best friends any more. Jimmy (Sean Penn) is an ex-con who runs a corner shop. Dave (Tim Robbins) lives with his wife (Marcia Gay Harden) next door, but Dave still bears the mental scars from his childhood.
Sean (Kevin Bacon) is a police officer, who gets called to his old neighbourhood when Jimmy’s daughter Katie (Emmy Rossum) goes missing … and turns up dead.
The thing is, Dave had seen her earlier that night, in a bar, and he shows up in the middle of the night, injured and covered in blood. Did he have something to do with Katie’s death? He’s acting very strange.
Also stars Laurence Fishburne as Whitey Powers, Laura Linney as Jimmy’s wife/Katie’s mother, and Tom Guiry as Katie’s boyfriend Brendan.
Three former best friends that were torn apart because one of them, by pure chance, was an easy target for men with evil agendas. And then, 25 years later, we meet them again and see how they’ve turned out. To begin with, I was wondering what possible bearing on the plot it would have that one of the kids were abducted as a child. Well, as it turns out, it has everything to do with the plot.
“Riveting” is one word you could use to describe Mystic River. “Tragic” another, because – well, have a wild stab at a guess. Teenage daughters getting murdered, ten-year-old (?) boys abducted and raped for days on end (which you never see, thank goodness) doesn’t exactly set a very up-beat tone. Friends, neighbours, even spouses turning on each other … No, it’s not a happy film. It’s not a funny film either. It’s dark, tragic, and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. So much pain, and so much bottled-up anger and such magnificent acting.
Seriously, there’s a reason Tim Robbins and Sean Penn won both Oscars and Golden Globes for Best Acting in this film. Penn is not an actor I have paid particular attention to ever, but I do really like Robbins, and wow. No, he’s definitely more than a pleasing face, that’s for sure! If you ever thought Clint Eastwood was only good for Spaghetti Westerns, think again. He has brought out the best in the actors and made a stunning piece of film.
Whether you’re in it for the cast, the murder mystery, the Tragic Pasts or anything else, if you’re not 100% convinced this is a great film, do let me know. I think it’s marvellous, and I never expected to like it as much as I actually did.
5 out of 5 hockey sticks.