Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Movie Review: Mystic River (2003)
The story of a grisly murder that reawakens a horrific childhood calamity, Mystic River is a grand tragedy and a spectacular film. Clint Eastwood directs the drama with the ever simmering tension of unfinished business, and a magnetic and exceptionally deep cast delivers exceptional performances.
Twenty five years later Dave (Tim Robins) is married to Celeste (Marcia Gay Harden) and has a young boy of his own. Dave has a lumbering, uncomfortable personality, still very much carrying the scars of the abuse he suffered as a child. Jimmy (Sean Penn) appears to have put a life of crime behind him and is now married to Annabeth (Laura Linney). Sean (Kevin Bacon) is the only one of the three to have moved out of the old neighbourhood, and he is now a police detective, recently and inexplicably abandoned by his wife.
Sean Penn (Best Actor) and Tim Robbins (Best Supporting Actor) won the Academy Awards, but all the cast members deliver outstanding performances, filled with nuance, flickers of understated emotion, and smoldering anger, agony or rage. Screenwriter Brian Helgeland, adapting Dennis Lehane's book, creates characters that are frighteningly real in their behaviour, with traits that are gradually revealed as the present collides with the past and fate comes calling.
Clint Eastwood approaches the peak of his directing career, knitting together a story that connects two tragedies across a span of a generation. His style is calm in the midst of emotional storms, the cameras discretely capturing a proud neighbourhood filled with strong characters in heart wrenching turmoil. In addition to co-producing, Eastwood also contributed an evocative music score.
Mystic River meanders expertly past the often untold stories of pain and suffering that hide behind many nondescript windows, a searing reminder that life can offer up challenging choices at any time, and the smallest decisions can have the most devastating of consequences.
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