With Mystic River, Clint Eastwood has made a good book into a great film.More adult drama than straightforward crime thriller, Mystic River tells of three kids whose friendship is fractured by a kidnapping. Twenty-five years later, another crime reunites them. In the interim, Jimmy (Sean Penn) has been to prison, Sean (Kevin Bacon) is now a homicide detective and Dave (Tim Robbins) lives life on the margins.
Eastwood produced, directed and wrote the music, but does not appear in the film. His economic shooting style is in perfect sync with Brian (LA Confidential) Helgelandís masterful adaptation of a complex novel by Dennis Lehane. Just as every word in Helgelandís screenplay counts, so does every shot and every bit part. Eastwood has cast with acuity - each face and minor player seems right, and in keeping with the design teamís conjuring of the Boston bars and streets and working class neighbourhood of the novel.
Penn provides a wrenching portrait of grief, all the more moving for its stillness. In a chilling scene reminiscent of Macbeth, the stunning Laura Linney pours poison in his ear. Marcia Gay Harden makes for a superb female contrast with Linney, and Tim Robbins performs without a trace of his usual goofiness. Despite losing the most subtext from his part, Bacon is equally fine as the male triangleís third point.Eastwood tells a gripping story without hammering home, or losing sight of, what the book says about masculinity, marriage, class, outsiders, revenge and the lingering impact of crime.