October 12, 2003


The Mystic River
An Extraordinary Masterpiece, Yet A Bitter Fruit
By Fred H. Arm

The usual Hollywood fare of violence in movies consists of serial car crashes, shootings, beatings, and knifings that most people are pretty much inured to emotionally. Mystic River, however, directed by Clint Eastwood, does not allow your senses to get off that easily. For many, there may be a disturbing price to pay.

The movie focuses on three men who live, love and die in the blue-collar old neighborhood of East Buckingham in Boston. The film opens on the trio as eleven-year old boys playing stickball in the streets. SEAN PENN plays tough-guy Jimmy Markum, KEVIN BACON is Sean Devine, and TIM ROBBINS is Dave Boyle, who is forced to take a ride with two pedophiles who would change all their lives forever. Dave ultimately escapes after a four-day ordeal, however, the emotional scars are there to stay.

Twenty-five years later, the three friends are thrust back together by another trauma—the murder of Jimmy’s 19-year old daughter. Sean, now a cop and his partner Whitey (LAURENCE FISHBURNE) are charged with solving this brutal crime. They must also stay one step ahead of Jimmy, now an ex-con, who is driven to find his daughter’s murderer.

Dave, now barely coping in a fragile marriage to Celeste (MARCIA GAY HARDEN), cannot exorcise the demons of his childhood ordeal. Sean is torn by old loyalties to Jimmy and Dave, yet doggedly gives no quarter in his quest for the truth.

The complex interweaving of the characters as we delve deeper and deeper into their psyches is both riveting and chilling at the same time. Eastwood brilliantly crafts such a heightened sensitivity and emotional involvement, that the effect soon evolves to become like an acid bath upon our nerve endings.

Jimmy’s wife, Annabeth (LAURA LINNEY) presents a chilling performance as a wife standing behind her man against all rational morality. Dave’s wife Celeste carries off much of the conveyed emotion by a simple nod or distressed look that is expertly communicated by this versatile actress.

Every actor, irrespective as to the minority of his or her role, is amazingly well performed and vividly portrayed. All this attention to detail adds immensely to the realism and emotional connection to each of the players. As the drama heightens to its climax, the brutality presented, although tame by objective contemporary cinematic standards, scorches the very fibers of one’s soul, feeling much like falling into ice water in the dead of winter. This is truly a masterpiece of filmmaking, however, for a sensitive and compassionate human being, a searing excursion into the bowels of angst and torment. I would certainly keep the gentle hearted and the children at home.

Posted by fredarm at October 12, 2003 10:38 PM

I stumbled on this from Google and wanted to say thanks for posting

Posted by: yaoi at September 25, 2004 12:36 AM
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