Back in the summer of 1975, the lives of three school friends changed forever when one of them was abducted and sexually abused for days. Thirty years down the line, those three boys are brought back together. Jimmy Markum’s (Sean Penn) daughter is murdered , and the cop leading the investigation is Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon). Bad times bring out traces of the old friendship, even with Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins) – the victim of the abduction on that fateful day all those years ago. However, the investigation into the murder turns it’s attention towards Dave when a few things begin to stack up against him. What was it that happened to Jimmy’s daughter, and can that friendship from years ago stand up against the tests it is currently facing?
A film I’ve been wanting to see for a while now is Mystic River, and finally I was able to watch it last week. It was very much worth the wait I can tell you, although there is part of me that is still not quite over the stupid ending it was given.
This film was an absolute powerhouse for performances. Tim Robbins played long-tormented Dave Boyle, and my God, wasn’t he tremendous. the years of torture and suffering he had gone through were prominent in the display put on by Robbins. He made Dave a very unreadable character at the same time however, and I think that is what made the performance so wonderful, and fully deserving of the Oscar he received for his efforts.
Sean Penn joined Robbins as a fellow Oscar winner with his performance as Jimmy. I found Penn to be very moving as his character struggled to come to terms with the death of his daughter. I thought he showed lots of different dimensions with his portrayal of Jimmy, who was a bit of a gangster in some ways. It was one of those roles that I think show just how talented Penn is, and how versatile he can be, even within the same role.
We all know what a seasoned professional Clint Eastwood is when it comes to film, whether he be on screen or in the director’s chair. He does something where, for me, he just strips everything back to the bare bones and builds it back up using super solid acting as the foundations. This style of directing can be seen in American Sniper and Million Dollar Baby, and again here. Eastwood certainly seems to know what is is he is doing, and Mystic River is yet another example to prove this.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the only real criticism I have of this film is the way it ended. I don’t know who exactly this ‘creative’ decision was down to, but I must say I feel as though where the story ended massively let down the rest of the film. A small snippet of a review I saw said something like, ‘Short of greatness, but superb anyway’ – don’t quote me entirely on that, however. I can’t help but feel that had the film have needed sensibly, Mystic River may have reached this greatness that is spoken of.
All in all, I would certainly urge you to take the time to see Mystic River is you haven’t already. For the terrific cast and absolutely stellar performances alone it is worth it, but is is the undertones of the film that mean it will not leave you in a hurry. It begs the question of whether you can ever fully detach yourself from your past, and I think it is this quality that makes the film stick in my mind at least – regardless of what I thought about the ending.