Mystic River Clint Eastwood

Mystic River Clint Eastwood
Mystic River is an urban crime thriller of considerable gravitas. Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn), Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins) and Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon) still live in the same working-class Boston neighbourhood where they grew up. But they have drifted apart, each man haunted by the memory of Dave's abduction by child molesters 25 years before as his two friends watched, helpless. When they are thrown together again as adults by the slaying of Jimmy's 19-year-old daughter, our opening violation ripples into the present, fatefully transforming the lives in these men, and the lives of the tight-knit, working-class community that surround them. It is the stuff of classic tragedy and a tour-de-force to watch. Like the best moments in Unforgiven, Eastwood seems less concerned with unfolding the plot and more so with allowing us to intricately observe the characters; he's more interested in giving his actors the space to really strut their stuff. Robbins and Penn, in their Oscar-winning performances, are both superb. Robbins plays Dave with haunted fragility and looks throughout as if he wants to fold in on himself and dissolve. Penn, meanwhile, is Dave's opposite, playing Jimmy with a tightly-coiled rage and stillness that is spellbinding. Jimmy can't fully be himself until he's violent, and when he gives into these emotions, the animal agony that's released is as powerful as anything ever captured on screen. Kevin Bacon holds the detective plot together well, suggesting in subtle ways the manner in which Dave's kidnapping left him broken, too; and in a triumphant piece of colour-blind casting, Laurence Fishburne brings savvy and a beautiful toughness (and the picture's only light moments) to his role as Bacon's wiseacre partner. The focus on impeccable casting extends even to the special features. On the disc's commentary track, Robbins and Bacon kibitz about their experience working on the film and lend some fascinating insights. Jokiness aside (Robbins refers to the film as Mystic Pizza), it's clear that their understanding of the material is profound, from the effects of history on the present to the overall aesthetic. Robbins repeatedly compliments the day players (as the mother of the dead girl's boyfriend, Jenny O'Hara, wearing a tattered housecoat and scowl, shows a lifetime of bitterness in five minutes of screen time) but it is Bacon who provides the most insightful moment. Praising the screenplay, he describes how Brian Helgeland beautifully condensed an entire portion from Dennis Lehane's novel (a scene detailing the deteriorated relationship between the young boys after the kidnapping) into one single scene. That the scene works so well is a testament to both Lehane and Eastwood's talents. The documentaries that accompany the disc are not groundbreaking by any stretch but who cares when the movie is this good? (Warner)