Mystic River (film)
|Directed by||Clint Eastwood|
|Screenplay by||Brian Helgeland|
|Based on||Mystic River|
by Dennis Lehane
|Edited by||Joel Cox|
|Music by||Clint Eastwood|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$156.6 million|
Mystic River is a 2003 American mystery film directed and scored by Clint Eastwood, and starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, and Laura Linney. The screenplay, written by Brian Helgeland, was based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane. It is the first film in which Eastwood was credited as composer of the score.
Mystic River was nominated for six Academy Awards at the 76th Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Penn, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress for Harden, and Best Supporting Actor for Robbins. Penn and Robbins won in their respective categories, making Mystic River the first film to win both awards since Ben-Hur in 1959 and until Dallas Buyers Club in 2013.
Three Irish-American boys, Jimmy Markum, Sean Devine, and Dave Boyle, are playing hockey in a Boston street in 1975, when Dave is kidnapped by two men and sexually abused for four days before managing to escape.
Twenty-five years later, the boys are grown and all still live in Boston, although they have drifted apart. Jimmy is an ex-con running a neighborhood convenience store; Sean is a detective with the Massachusetts State Police, and Dave is a blue-collar worker continually haunted by the abduction and rape. Jimmy and Dave are still neighbors and are now related by marriage. Sean's pregnant wife, Lauren, has recently left him. She frequently phones him, but never speaks during their calls. Jimmy's 19-year-old daughter, Katie, is secretly dating Brendan Harris, a boy from a family Jimmy despises. Brendan and Katie are planning to run away together to Las Vegas.
Katie goes out for the night with her girlfriends, and Dave sees her at a local bar. That night, Katie is murdered, and Dave comes home bloodied and injured. He tells his wife that he fought off a mugger and possibly killed him.
Sean and his partner, Sergeant Whitey Powers, investigate the murder, while Jimmy conducts his own investigation using his neighborhood connections. Sean discovers that Katie apparently recognized her killer and that the gun used to kill her, a .38 Special revolver, was also used in a liquor store robbery in 1984 by "Just Ray" Harris, the father of Brendan. Harris has been missing since 1989, but Brendan claims he still sends his family $500 every month. Brendan feigns ignorance about Ray's gun. Whitey suspects Dave, who keeps changing the story about how his hand was injured. Dave continues to behave erratically, which upsets his wife so much that she leaves their home and tells Jimmy she suspects Dave might be involved in the murder.
Jimmy and his friends confront Dave. Jimmy admits to Dave that he killed "Just Ray" for implicating Jimmy, which resulted in his imprisonment. Dave reveals to Jimmy that he did kill someone that night, but it was not Katie; he beat a child molester to death after finding him with a child prostitute. Jimmy does not believe Dave and pulls out a knife. He promises to let Dave live if he confesses to Katie's murder. However, when Dave admits to killing Katie, Jimmy kills him and disposes of his body in the adjacent Mystic River.
Meanwhile, Brendan, after finding his father's gun missing, confronts his younger brother "Silent Ray" and his friend John O'Shea about Katie's murder. He beats the two boys, trying to get them to admit their guilt. As John pulls out “Just Ray's” gun and is about to shoot Brendan, Sean and Whitey arrive, having connected a 911 call to the two boys; they disarm and arrest John and “Silent Ray”.
The next morning, Sean tells Jimmy that John and “Silent Ray” confessed to killing Katie as part of a prank gone wrong. Sean asks Jimmy if he has seen Dave, as he is wanted for questioning in another case, the murder of a known child molester. Jimmy does not answer. He thanks Sean for finding his daughter's killers, but adds, "If only you had been a little faster." Sean then asks Jimmy if he is going to "send Celeste Boyle $500 a month too?"
Sean reunites with his wife and his daughter, Nora, after apologizing for "pushing her away". Jimmy goes to his wife, Annabeth, and confesses. She comforts him and tells him he is a king, and a king knows what to do and does it. At a town parade, Dave's son is sad as he waits for his father. Sean sees Jimmy and mimics firing a gun with his hand, to let Jimmy know he is coming for him. Jimmy spreads his arms to show that he is ready, too.
- Sean Penn as James "Jimmy" Markum
- Jason Kelly as Young Jimmy Markum
- Tim Robbins as Dave Boyle
- Cameron Bowen as Young Dave Boyle
- Kevin Bacon as Detective Sean Devine
- Connor Paolo as Young Sean Devine
- Laurence Fishburne as Detective Sergeant Whitey Powers
- Marcia Gay Harden as Celeste Samarco Boyle
- Laura Linney as Annabeth Markum
- Tom Guiry as Brendan Harris
- Spencer Treat Clark as Ray “Silent Ray” Harris Jr.
- Andrew Mackin as John O'Shea
- Emmy Rossum as Katie Markum
- Jenny O'Hara as Esther Harris
- Kevin Chapman as Val Savage
- Adam Nelson as Nick Savage
- Robert Wahlberg as Kevin Savage
- Cayden Boyd as Michael Boyle
- John Doman as Driver
- Tori Davis as Lauren Devine
- Jonathan Togo as Pete
- Will Lyman as FBI Special Agent Birden
- Ari Graynor as Eve Pigeon
- Ken Cheeseman as Dave's Friend In Bar
- Michael McGovern as 1975 Reporter
- Kevin Conway (uncredited) as Theo Savage
- Eli Wallach (uncredited) as Mr. Loonie
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 88% based on 206 reviews, with an average rating of 7.80/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Anchored by the exceptional acting of its strong cast, Mystic River is a somber drama that unfolds in layers and conveys the tragedy of its story with visceral power." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 84 out of 100, based on reviews from 42 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote "Clint Eastwood pours everything he knows about directing into Mystic River. His film sneaks up, messes with your head, and then floors you. You can't shake it. It's that haunting, that hypnotic."
On September 8, 2003, David Edelstein wrote a long article for The New York Times with the headline: "Dirty Harry Wants to Say He's Sorry (Again)." The piece examines Mystic River in the context of Eastwood's entire oeuvre, raising questions about the portrayal of violence in film.
Reviewing the film for The New York Times on October 3, 2003, A.O. Scott wrote a long review of this "mighty" work, at one point observing: "Dave's abduction is an act of inexplicable, almost metaphysical evil, and this story of guilt, grief and vengeance grows out of it like a mass of dark weeds. At its starkest, the film, like the novel by Dennis Lehane on which it is based, is a parable of incurable trauma, in which violence begets more violence and the primal violation of innocence can never be set right. Mystic River is the rare American movie that aspires to—and achieves—the full weight and darkness of tragedy."
On October 12, 2003, The New York Times A. O. Scott wrote a piece headlined “Ms. Macbeth and her cousin: The women of Mystic River” which he opened with: "One of the most haunting scenes in Clint Eastwood's Mystic River—a film that consists almost entirely of haunting scenes—comes just before the end. The main dramatic action, we have every reason to suspect, is complete ... A long, climactic night of revelation and confrontation is over, and the weary streets of Boston are flooded with hard autumnal light. The break of day brings a new insight, one that has less to do with the facts of the story than with its meaning. All along, Mystic River has seemed, most obviously, to be about those three men ... But it turns out to be just as much about three (or more) damaged families, about the terror and mystery of marriage and about the fateful actions of two women."
On February 15, 2004, Terence Rafferty of The New York Times wrote about Sean Penn's Oscar-nominated performance.
In the New York Times, on June 8, 2004, anticipating the DVD and CD release, Dave Kehr praised the film as “a symphonic study in contrasting voices and values. Long fascinated by music as a subject,… Mr. Eastwood here creates a genuinely musical style, using his performers like soloists, from Mr. Robbins's moody baritone to Mr. Penn's spiky soprano. Their individual arias are incorporated into a magnificent choral piece”.
The film earned $156,822,020 worldwide with $90,135,191 in the United States and $66,686,829 in the international box office, which is significantly higher than the film's $25-30 million budget.
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