Mystic River: Movie Review

Delhi’s chilly winters have confined me to my room, even during the weekends. So while I had spent my evening cribbing and cursing the grimy weather, I was getting quite bored and impatient just sitting tucked away in my super warm quilt. Like any other non-TV-lover would do, I was also flipping channels hoping to spot something of my interest. And voila! I saw Mystic River which was going to start in another few minutes. I, being a Clint Eastwood’s fan (the admiration had increased after watching Gran Torino) decided to watch it.

The movie based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, is scripted by Brian Helgeland and is directed and produced by Hollywood veteran, Clint Eastwood. Crime, guilt and punishment are the three key features of this mystery/thriller drama. The story is powerful as the audience keep guessing throughout the movie, ‘who did it?’ this 2003 movie is a winner of two Oscars and many other awards.

The three main characters of the movie are Jimmy (Sean Penn), Sean (Kevin Beacon), and Dave (Tim Robbins). We are introduced to them as little kids playing street hockey and trying to engrave their names in wet cement on the pavement. Just then a car drives up and a man gets out identifying himself as a cop. After intimidating them for defacing public property, he forces Dave to get in the car and drives away. It turns out that he was a paedophile. Dave goes missing for four days before he escapes from his abductors.

The story takes a leap of 30 years and we see that the three childhood friends are no longer close pals and have drifted apart over the years. All three of them are leading their separate lives. Jimmy, a grocery store owner with a criminal record is living with his second wife and has three daughters but he dotes on his eldest daughter, Katie. Sean is separated from his wife and is a police detective for the Massachusetts State PD. Dave, still not outgrown from his childhood trauma, is married to Celeste and has a young son.

Then one fateful night, Katie is found murdered. Sean and his partner are investigating officers of the case. Dave turns out to be a suspect as he returned home late that night with his hands and clothes smeared in blood. Hence, the three friends are again pushed into each other’s lives. Jimmy is inconsolable and starts making his own enquiries as he is determined to find the murderer before the police does so that he can hand out the justice according to his own terms.

The movie proves to be a powerhouse of great performances by the three actors. Sean Penn is exceedingly convincing as the grieving father and it is painful to see him identify his daughter’s body at the morgue. He has yet again given a great performance in the movie and one can’t stop thinking about his other such performances as in Dead Man Walking and I Am Sam. Now we have seen what Tim Robbins is capable of (Shawshank Redemption) and in this movie also he stands out as a man whose childhood was severed by that tragic incident and has left permanent scars. He doesn’t emote much and keeps low key. Kevin Beacon also plays his part well as a police officer as he tries to remain emotionally detached from the situation of Katie’s death. The supporting cast also plays its part well especially Katie’s boyfriend and Dave’s wife, Celeste.

Though the friends have drifted apart over the years but none of them have forgotten that childhood instance. They share a psychological bond. Towards the end of the movie, we see a glimpse of how that event is still embedded in their hearts as even after all those years they clearly visualise Dave looking at them forlornly through the backseat while being taken away by the abductors.

Though the movie is excellent, one may feel that it drags at few points but in my opinion it is only to build up the suspense. The film carries on with a melancholy note and the climax is sure to surprise many. But one outstanding part of the movie is that it haunts its viewers even after it is finished. It stays on in the minds and one can’t stop thinking about the movie time and again. This riveting tale is Clint Eastwood’s yet another great production and deserves all the applause. Take my word and catch it for an experience that will stay with you for long!

Shikha Tandon