'Mystic River' is one of the year's best films and one of the main
reasons of that is the performances. Like in 'Lost in Translation',
what in my opinion was the year's best film (although 'Kill Bill'
and 'The Lord of the Rings' came close), every actor does a perfect
job in creating a character with its own emotions and therefore
they could be real people.
Jimmy (Sean Penn), Sean (Kevin Bacon) and Dave (Tim Robbins)
were friends as kids. One day they were playing on the street
and Dave is taken by two men, pretending to be police officers.
For four days he is abused by the men and this terrible event
has changed them all. Now they are all grown up. Jimmy has a second
wife, Annabeth (Laura Linney). He has two daughters with her and
an older daughter Katie (Emmy Rossum) from his previous marriage.
She is found beaten and dead in a park. Dave is one of the main
suspects. He is married to Celeste (Marcia Gay Harden) and has
a little boy. Sean is one of the detectives put on the case. Together
with Whitey Powers (Laurence Fishburne) he must solve this mystery.
Another suspect is Brendan Harris (Tom Guiry). He was Katie's
boyfriend and they were leaving for Vegas. Jimmy hated Brendan,
we learn why that is.
In a way 'Mystic River' plays like a detective movie. The plot
is intriguing and we wonder what really has happened. But this
movie doesn't end there. It looks further, closer to the characters
and their emotions. There is suspense in dialogue between characters
when they are explaining what they are feeling and what they really
think. Director Clint Eastwood has made a movie with a creepy
atmosphere the entire time. His direction is one of the other
great things in this movie.
Back to the performances. The best performance in the movie is
from Tim Robbins. In every scene you feel what has happened to
him as a kid. He even uses vampire movies as a metaphor to how
he feels. Sean Penn has a great performance as well. He is not
as good as Bill Murray in 'Lost in Translation' but comes close.
Penn sometimes goes a little over the top where Murray was always
perfect in character. Kevin Bacon seems to have the easiest part,
but you can see the pain he constantly feels. He has a pregnant
wife but she has left him. She sometimes calls him but doesn't
say anything. Bacon does a great job in showing us how he feels.
Smaller parts are very good as well. You forget Fishburne was
playing Morpheus in 'The Matrix'-trilogy almost immediately. Marcia
Gay Harden is probably the best from the supporting cast although
Laura Linney, and especially her final creepy moments, comes close.
Linney's performance is to small to really see how good she plays
it. Tom Guiry as Brendan, who is not the best known here, surprised
me in a very positive way. The more the movie develops the more
he shows us how good he is.
Clint Eastwood has made his second-best film after 'Unforgiven'
with a great story, adapted by Brian Helgeland ('L.A. Confidential')
from the book written by Dennis Lehane. Together with his own
music and his actors he creates a creepy atmosphere and has the
nerve to not simply play that out. Giving the characters real
lives is a movie you don't see very often anymore. Eastwood does
it and Penn, Robbins, Bacon, Linney, Harden, Fishburne and Guiry
make sure they are believable.