By Paula Delaney
Mystic River – 2003 – dir. Clint Eastwood
Director Clint Eastwood weaves a tangled web in this movie that provides excellent cinematography, particularly with shots of Boston. The movie contains a number of parallels, beginning with the scene of three young boys in South Boston playing in the street, when one of them gets abducted by two men. A parallel scene occurs toward the end of the movie, when the abducted boy, Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins) is now a man and again falls prey to another type of abduction. This time he innocently joins the Savage Brothers (gang type characters) who take him to a bar where his once childhood friend, Jimmy (Sean Penn), accuses him of killing his daughter. There is a shot of an older but just as fragile Dave looking out the rear window of the car as it speeds away, similar to the earlier shot when he was abducted as a child.
A number of flashbacks are well executed and inform the viewer of how damaged Dave is as an adult after being molested by his captors when he was a boy. It becomes obvious to his wife that he is troubled and she erroneously assumes that he did, in fact, murder Jimmy’s daughter. All evidence seems to support this. This is so believable that the viewer naturally falls into this faulty assumption.
The State Police Agent investigating the crime is predictably, the third member of the young cohort, Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon). The viewer may see it as bit contrived that for the first time in many years, these former friends (still living in close proximity to each other) are reunited, unfortunately by a horrific crime against one of their daughters.
Some might find this film too stereotypical in the way it portrays the Irish of South Boston (referred to as “southie” in the movie.) Street life, characters imbibing in much drinking and the “brotherhood” of some of the characters closely resemble what is often thought of as typically South Boston. Most, but not all, of the accents seem to be natural. Some fall short of being accurate and believable.
Other than falling short on the accents, the characters are well developed and well portray a span of emotions throughout the movie. Sean Penn, who plays Jimmy, is outstanding the way he communicates his sadness, anger, and rage during different parts of the movie. The character of his face changes with each emotion.
This is a well developed film with excellent views of several parts of Boston. The actors are cast well and the film engrosses the viewer with it’s twists and turns.