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"Mystic River"

Directed by Clint Eastwood.
Written by Brian Helgeland.  Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane.
Starring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins and Marcia Gay Harden.
Release Year:  2003 
Review Date:  10/27/03 


Damn, maybe all of those great reviews really DO mean something.

I was very excited to catch “Mystic River” ever since I first saw the trailer for it a month ago, and director Clint Eastwood does some great work with a great cast and a solid script based on the Dennis Lehane novel.  Three friends from childhood are reunited over some very unfortunate circumstances—Jimmy (Sean Penn), a local convenience store owner; Sean (Kevin Bacon), a Boston detective; and Dave (Tim Robbins), a down-on-his-luck husband.  After we witness an event that affects one of the guys’ adolescent years, we move to the present day, where we come to see that Jimmy’s oldest daughter Katie has been murdered, and it’s up to the cops—led by Sean and his partner Whitey (very unwhite Laurence Fishburne)—to figure out whodunit.

Penn only comes to school on test days and it shows here—the man is just so intense, he makes you feel everything as the wronged father of the 19-year-old Katie.  I love watching him work because you just never know when he is going to blow his top and when he does in this film, oh boy, watch out!  His matchups with every actor in the film feel like all-star appearances; scenes with Penn, Bacon and Fishburne are electric, and it must have been pretty cool as an actor to work on a film with so many great performers.  Marcia Gay Harden appears as Dave’s wife, and she is fantastic once again as well; Robbins and Bacon are quite good, and Laura Linney is superb in her few scenes as Jimmy’s wife.  Even the child actors in this film, led by Tom Guiry as Katie’s boyfriend Brendan, are solid.

The film’s twisting plot and constant cutaways as we revolve around the three former friends keep things moving very briskly, making the film’s long 145 minutes evaporate effortlessly.  A score by the Boston Philharmonic and original songs by Eastwood himself fill the aural air; a good-looking Boston in the background makes for pretty scenery.  I loved the murder setup, I loved the little developments that come in with the suspects in the case, I loved the ending.

Damn, I think I pretty much loved it all with “Mystic River.”  You should definitely get into a theater and check this thing out; it is sure to be a contender when all is said and done at Oscar time.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09