IN THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR WITH CLINT EASTWOOD REVIEW: “Mystic River” stars Sean Penn (Milk, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ), Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption, The Player), Kevin Bacon (X-Men: First Class, Footloose ), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, John Wick: Chapter 2), Marcia Gay Harden (The Mist , Into the Wild), Laura Linney (The Savages, The Big C [TV series]), Tom Guiry (The Sandlot, Black Hawk Down), Kevin Chapman (Person of Interest [TV series], The Equalizer 2), Spencer Treat Clark (Gladiator, Animal Kingdom [TV series]), Adam Nelson (Appaloosa, The Abyss ), Andrew Mackin, Robert Wahlberg (The Departed, The Equalizer), Emmy Rossum (The Phantom of the Opera , The Day After Tomorrow ), and Jenny O’Hara (Devil, The King of Queens [TV series]). It is directed by Clint Eastwood () and written by Brian Helgeland (42, A Knight’s Tale).
Three men who were once childhood friends find themselves back in each other’s lives when the daughter of one of them is murdered. Jimmy Markum (Penn), the father, seeks vengence; Sean Devine (Bacon) is investigating the case; and Dave Boyle (Robbins) is the prime suspect.
What. A. Cast. Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Laura Linney; goodness gracious, does Eastwood know how to select his performers or what?
Clearly, “Mystic River” is an actor’s wheelhouse, fit with memorable moments showcasing top-tier talent from artists in their prime. Eastwood has always been an actor’s director, and it certainly shows in this story of heartbreak, confusion, and a loss of innocence.
Picking apart the feature, there’s plenty to keep you engaged. I believe there’s roughly four to five story lines that are juggled between, all surrounding the tragic event of Katie Markum’s (Rossum) death. You’ve got a vengeful father, troubled child rape victim, burdened cop, fearful wife, and a sad boyfriend (did I miss anyone?). There’s a lot to chew on, and for the most part Eastwood balances it out with ease.
When it comes to these investigative capers, there’s a certain structure that’s to be expected. You’ve gotta have your misdirection, red herring, etc. It’s relatively easy to pick up on, but what Eastwood and company do well is they give us a story not necessarily about solving a case, but learning about these three boys turned men. How an unfortunate event from childhood altered who they are, and what they ultimately become in light of what occurs in the film. Sure, the case is the most interesting part, but the characters are what pull you in (especially with such brilliant performances).
There’s hardly a dull moment with “Mystic River,” but I would be lying if I said I found it to be perfect. Honestly, there were some moments that I found quite… peculiar to put in. Peculiar in the sense of me not necessarily understanding how it pertains to the story at large. For instance, Sean Devine’s former wife. That whole storyline where you don’t see above her lips when they talk on the phone… what’s that about? Am I an idiot? Perhaps. I know he’s had his own demons to face before taking her back, but what’s her deal? Another thing I was confused over was the ending. It felt… kind of elongated. As if they tacked on a scene by the end that didn’t have too much traction on the narrative as a whole. I’m sure there’s something symbolic behind it, but once again… I’m out of the loop. Call me ignorant, whatever have you. Truth is, I don’t catch on to many things.
All in all, “Mystic River” is brilliantly performed feature with plenty to keep you engaged. While it has its moments that leave me scratching my head (not in the best of ways), I found it to be a wonderfully put together story that should only get better with a rewatch. Definitely check it out. FINAL SCORE: 90%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: