Monday, March 27, 2023


  by Adam Riske

Nominated for “Best Foreign Film” at the Awards of the Japanese Academy. It lost to The Last Samurai.

• Best Scene/Moment: The parade sequence epilogue which ends with Kevin Bacon doing a bad ass “I’m taking you down” finger point at Sean Penn.

• Best Song: The Mystic River theme (composed by Clint Eastwood) is incredible.
• Best Merch: Show your appreciation for the film inside your home (you’ll probably get asked a lot of questions if you take it outdoors) with your own Mystic River acoustic Huntington guitar signed by Sean Penn for $999.99!

• Director Check: Mystic River was directed by Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood, who has had a prolific career as a filmmaker over the past 50+ years. His first feature directorial effort was 1971’s creepy Play Misty for Me, followed by a ton of hit movies over the next 20 years including The Outlaw Josey Wales, Sudden Impact, Pale Rider, and Heartbreak Ridge. Eastwood’s career as a director had a peak with 1992’s breakthrough Oscar-Winning revisionist Western Unforgiven, which was a huge success and won both Best Picture at the Academy Awards as well as a Best Director Oscar for Eastwood. His success was sporadic for the next 11 years with great films (A Perfect World), not so great films (Absolute Power) and odd ones (True Crime, Blood Work). Mystic River was popular during awards season, receiving six Oscar nominations including wins for Best Actor (Sean Penn) and Best Supporting Actor (Tim Robbins). Eastwood’s career hit another high watermark from the 2003 to 2008 starting with Mystic River, continuing with Oscar favorites Million Dollar Baby and Letters to Iwo Jima and closing out with Gran Torino, which was controversial but also a huge hit at the box office. Eastwood has continued directing films throughout the 2010’s (some of my favorites being Hereafter and Richard Jewell) but his last movie, 2021’s Cry Macho, may be his last, especially considering the current situation at Warner Bros. If that’s the case, it closes out a fantastic directing career spanning 40 films over six decades.

• Double It with This 2003 Movie: 21 Grams
• Year 2003 Movies to Trailer Before It: House of Sand and Fog, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Out of Time

Draft Day or Mystic River? Draft Day

• Mall Movie? Not many Clint movies would play at the mall. Pink Cadillac would play at the mall. The Rookie would play at the mall. Mystic River wouldn’t play at the mall.

• Only in 2003: Tim Robbins threateningly demands a Sprite.

• Scene Stealer: Laurence Fishburne.

• I Miss: When Warner Bros. was a studio cranking out star & filmmaker-driven movies for grownups.

• I Don’t Miss: Pretending Tim Robbins gave a good performance in this. That’s mean, and I’m a fan of Tim Robbins as an actor, but either his acting (or the writing of his character) is all over the map scene to scene. I’m glad he got an Oscar though as a make-good for not having one already from his wonderful prior work.

• 2003 Crush: Laura Linney.

• 2023 Crush: Laura Linney.
• What I Thought in 2003: I remember seeing Mystic River on opening night and being really moved by the film. It opened sort of quietly on a Wednesday and I was the only person in the theater which was confusing (did anyone else in town besides me know it was out?). I know there’s some over-the-top acting in it (e.g., Sean Penn and Tim Robbins) but that didn’t stop the movie from completely working for me as a great melodrama.

• What I Think in 2023: I still like Mystic River quite a bit even if it’s not as much as I did 20 years ago. There are some tremendous scenes and a lot of great performances (Sean Penn most of the time, Marcia Gay Harden most of the time and especially Kevin Bacon and Laurence Fishburne who are both amazing as the two detectives on the case) but certain moments are too histrionic by half in my opinion. It doesn’t really matter, though, since Mystic River remains a gripping police procedural with interesting themes and superlative technical credits. I like the movie as a bookend to what Eastwood was doing with A Perfect World since both films are concerned with trauma done to children and how it can reverberate into adulthood.

1 comment:

  1. MVP. Fishburne. I like that his character is the only "outsider" and sees everything as an outsider.