Released: 20 November 2003
Cast: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburn, Marcia Gay Harden Laura Linney.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Rated: MA 15+
Running Time: 137 Minutes
We bury our sins, we wash them clean.
When they were kids growing up together in a rough section of Boston, Jimmy Markum (SEAN PENN), Dave Boyle (TIM ROBBINS) and Sean Devine (KEVIN BACON) spent their days playing stickball on the street, the way most boys did in their blue-collar neighbourhood of East Buckingham. Nothing much ever happened in their neighbourhood. That is, until Dave was forced to take the ride that would change all of their lives forever.Twenty-five years later, the three find themselves thrust back together by another life altering event - the murder of Jimmy's 19-year-old daughter. Now a cop, Sean is assigned to the case and he and his partner (LAURENCE FISHBURNE) are charged with unravelling the seemingly senseless crime. They must also stay one step ahead of Jimmy, a man driven by an all consuming rage to find his daughter's killer.Connected to the crime by a series of circumstances, Dave is forced to confront the demons of his own past. Demons that threaten to destroy his marriage and any hope he may have for a future. As the investigation tightens around these three friends, an ominous story unfolds that revolves around friendship, family and innocence lost too soon.
Clint Eastwood has created a moving, disturbing movie in Mystic River. The atmosphere is one of despair, of disbelief and of pity. Yet, it is not too melodramatic. The mood is powerful and revelations let us in on the reasons why. It is hard not to feel touched by the lives of the three main characters, as children and then as adults.
Sean Penn is perfect as Jimmy, the reformed criminal who is overcome with emotion after his daughter's murder. He looks so much like an ex-con yet has that immense love for his daughter. He vows to never rest until his daughter's killer is brought to justice. Kevin Bacon is also superb as a member of the trio that find their lives re-connecting in adulthood after a childhood spent together. Kevin is Sean the detective, working the case of the murder of Jimmy's daughter. This creates dilemmas for him on a professional and personal level. Tim Robbins is my choice as the pick of the three lead actors in Mystic River. He is a troubled soul searching for an answer, searching for a reason to live. He is simply brilliant as Dave. He deserves an Oscar for his performance but may have a fierce rival in Sean Penn's performance. Marcia Gay Harden and Laura Linney are also excellent in supporting roles, Marcia as Dave's wife who begins to suspect him of the murder, and Laura as Jimmy's second wife.
Mystic River is from a novel, written by Dennis Lehane who managed to get a cameo role in the final scene. The novel is set in Boston, and Eastwood used the riverside district in Boston for filming. This certainly adds to the authenticity and atmosphere. Filming was completed in 39 days - a rarity for a feature film - because the cast worked so well together, coupled with Eastwood's expert direction.
Mystic River deserves accolades as one of the year's best films. It is haunting and remarkable and never disappoints. See it and be impressed.
- Christina Bruce