Mystic River: Acting Class With Sean And Tim

Mystic River: Acting Class With Sean And Tim

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  1. It seems like every novel that is written these days gets optioned for a movie.  A lot of these movies that are based on novels get high critical praise, but fans of the novel usually argue that "the book is better."  This is usually because of the challenge of taking a long novel and transforming it into a two hour or so film.  Things get left out.  Clint Eastwood’s 2003 detective story Mystic River is based on a novel by Dennis Lehane who also wrote the novels that inspired Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island and Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone (more detective stories).  Mystic River boasts Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Marcia Gay Harden), and Best Adapted Screenplay but won Best Lead Actor (Sean Penn) and Best Supporting Actor (Tim Robbins).

    What is it about?

    Three childhood friends – Jimmy, Dave, and Sean – are playing hockey in the street one day when some cops approach them.  These cops convince Dave to get in their car so they can take him home, but they aren’t actually cops.  They pose as cops in order to kidnap Dave and sexually abuse him for four days until he can successfully escape.

    Now, these three friends are adults and have lost touch.  When Jimmy’s (Sean Penn) daughter gets murdered, however, they are reunited even though they may not want to be.  Sean (Kevin Bacon) is one of the detectives on the case who works with his partner Sgt. Powers (Laurence Fishburne).  After some investigating, Powers thinks that Dave (Tim Robbins) killed Jimmy’s daughter because of his being one of the last people to see her alive and because of his obvious lies about some things.  Brendan is also a suspect because Jimmy hates his family and he seems to be hiding some things about his criminal of a father.  While the cops are doing their investigation, though, Jimmy has his friends the Savage brothers doing their own investigation.

    These two parallel investigations get messy at the end when they both discover their own brand of "the truth."  Who is right?  Who is wrong?  See the film to find out.

    Is it any good?

    Depending on why you watch movies, you may think this film is good or you may not.  It is a depressing film, so if you are in it for some feel-good, escapist entertainment, Mystic River is not for you.  If you enjoy watching amazing acting performances, Mystic River is certainly for you.  Sean Penn and Tim Robbins won Oscars for their roles, but everyone else is great as well.  Even the young Tom Guiry (Scotty Smalls from The Sandlot) gives a powerful performance as Brendan, the guy in love with Jimmy’s daughter and a suspect in the case.

    While the story is very good with twists and turns throughout, there are some major issues.  First of all, the story is so heavy and dark that there needs to be some comic relief or some sort of break from the darkness.  There isn’t… at all.  Secondly (without any spoilers), the film heavily leads you to believe that a certain person did it throughout most of the film so, if you’ve ever seen a detective film, you know he probably didn’t do it.  Finally, the story is way too long.  After the climax (which is a very powerful one), it continues for another 20 or 30 minutes and the ending isn’t even satisfying.

    My Grade:  C+

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