FBMR - Mystic River
Film-Buff Movie Reviews

MYSTIC RIVER (2003) ***

This was not an easy movie to watch. This movie deals with the death of a loved one and trying to find whoís to blame for this senseless act of violence. The violence isnít glorified, and the emotion exhibited by the characters it affects seems very real. Each of the main characters in the movie are quite complex, whether it stems from a troubled youth or problems faced now grown up.

This movie is about a group of friends who grew up together in Boston. Jimmy (Sean Penn) was the leader of the group growing up, and was the defiant one. Sean (Kevin Bacon) was the voice of reason, but sometimes gave in to Seanís antics. And Dave (Tim Robbins) just wanted to fit in, he was more the follower. These characteristics carried through to their adult lives as well. For one reason or another, however, they drifted apart as they got older. Unfortunately, a death brings these friends back into each otherís lives Ö perhaps for better, perhaps for worse. From a storytelling point of view, the viewer is only given limited information, and only a little at a time. Itís a very effective tool for building suspense because although we know more than the characters in the movie, we donít know enough to solve the mystery (well, I didnít at least until enough information was revealed Ö but I did have a sneaking suspicion Ö all I needed to know was ďthe rest of the storyĒ as Paul Harvey would say). The movie was very well written, if not a little slow to unravel.

Iíve seen movies and tv shows where the death of a loved one is investigated, but this one seemed to touch me more than some others have. One of the main reasons I think is Sean Pennís very realistic and human portrayal of a troubled and grieving father. I donít know how else to put it without revealing part of the movie. Having had similar and witnessed first-hand experiences similar to what his character goes through, I commend his job well done.

Not for those who seek stories that have everyone living happily ever after.