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Mystic River | Review

The Boston Ruined

Eastwood adapts a murder mystery into a murder without much mystery.

It’s been over a decade since Clint Eastwood has given us something to wow about, Unforgiven a triumph in the Western genre seems to be a item of the past far back with his lined-up bunch of recent film duds. With the help of scripter Brian Helgeland, Eastwood manages to ooze his newest film with dim subplots, awful characters and a story so drenched in unimportant facts which makes for a crime film not worth investigating.

After a prologue that is disturbing in thought, Mystic River gives us this long murder investigation mystery which attempts to texturize everything in a noir appeal. With a pointing out all clues that lead in one direction and to one fellow type of situation which Robbins overplays with this demon-has-possessed-me type of talk about werewolves and vampires. At first, Eastwood is content in giving us a film and a half’s of worth of the childhood victim becoming the victimizer; basically it prods the message over and over again that those who are left unhealed go onto do heinous crimes. In the second half, the film goes from character study to revealing the pieces of the puzzle, giving us facts about what is connected with what crime, although this is not a difficult one to figure out it is neither inspiring nor interesting, I suppose that these are simple narrative elements from the novel but inside this film it seems to fizzle out into this spokes piece for the tough Boston streets and about settling scores the hold fashion way.

In addition to the entire selection of roll my eyes into my head moments, there are some unbearable acting performances by some great actors here which are covered up by this omnipresent hiding in the shadows lighting. Tim Robbins (The Truth about Charlie) is especially annoying, but the supporting female characters of Laura Linney (The Life of David Gale)

and Marcia Gay Harden (Casa de los Babys) are hardly credible in the roles they play, I’m not exactly sure why Linney gets more screen time in this tacked on added sequence where she goes onto some literary spurt and which makes no sense whatsoever. Sean Penn (21 Grams) seems to be recycle screaming antics and disturbed mental behavioral frames of mind from his films of the past-if you want to see him in a better performance wait until 21 Grams. At the same time you might as well forget about Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix Reloaded) and Kevin Bacon (Novocaine)

characters as the film’s duo of detectives who rotate in spilling out some of the film’s most unbelievably stupid dialogue.

The river that never speaks might have its share of secrets but none that we could care to know. In the end what Mystic River ends up giving us is an especially long story where great talent get lost in silly characterizations, while Eastwood drowns himself in mood without material.

Rating 1.5 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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