Theatrical release poster by Bill Gold
|Directed by||Clint Eastwood|
|Screenplay by||Brian Helgeland|
|Based on||Mystic River|
by Dennis Lehane
|Music by||Clint Eastwood|
|Edited by||Joel Cox|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$156.6 million|
Mystic River is a 2003 American neo-noir mystery drama film directed and scored by Clint Eastwood. It stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, and Laura Linney. The screenplay, written by Brian Helgeland, was based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane. The film was produced by Robert Lorenz, Judie G. Hoyt, and Eastwood. It is the first film in which Eastwood was credited as composer of the score.
The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Penn, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress for Harden, and Best Supporting Actor for Robbins. Penn and Robbins won in their respective categories, making Mystic River the first film to win both awards since Ben-Hur in 1959 and until Dallas Buyers Club in 2013.
Three boys, Jimmy Markum, Sean Devine, and Dave Boyle play hockey in a Boston street in 1975. Spotting wet concrete, they start writing their names into it when a car pulls up with two men, one pretending to be a police officer and the other a priest. One gets out and berates the boys for their actions, and tells Dave to get into the car. The men kidnap Dave and sexually abuse him for four days until he escapes.
Twenty-five years later, the boys are grown and, while they still live in Boston, have drifted apart. Jimmy is an ex-con running a neighborhood convenience store; Sean is a detective with the Massachusetts State Police; and Dave is a blue collar worker continually haunted by the abduction and rape. Jimmy and Dave are still neighbors and related by marriage. Jimmy's 19-year-old daughter Katie is secretly dating Brendan Harris, a boy Jimmy despises. Brendan and she are planning to run away together to Las Vegas.
Katie goes out for the night with her girlfriends and Dave sees her at a local bar. That night, Katie is murdered, and Dave comes home with an injured hand and blood on his clothes, which his wife Celeste helps him clean. Dave claims he fought off a mugger, "bashed his head on the parking lot", and possibly killed him. Sean investigates Katie's murder. His pregnant wife, Lauren, has recently left him.
Sean and his partner, Sergeant Whitey Powers, track down leads, while Jimmy conducts his own investigation using his neighborhood connections. Sean discovers that the gun used to kill Katie was also used in a liquor store robbery in 1984 by "Just Ray" Harris, the father of Katie's boyfriend. Harris has been missing since 1989, but Brendan claims "Just Ray" still sends his family $500 every month. Brendan also feigns ignorance about Ray's gun, but Sean believes it was still in the house. Whitey suspects Dave as a possible perpetrator because he was one of the last people to see Katie alive and because he has a wounded hand—and although Dave continues to tell Celeste the injury occurred while being mugged, Dave tells the police a different story. Soon, Jimmy becomes suspicious. Dave continues to behave strangely, which upsets his wife to the point she is afraid he will hurt her. While Jimmy and his associates conduct their investigation, Dave's wife eventually tells Jimmy about Dave's behavior, the bloody clothing, and her suspicions.
Jimmy and his friends get Dave drunk at a local bar. When Dave leaves the bar, the men follow him. Jimmy admits to Dave that he shot "Just Ray" at that same location for implicating Jimmy which resulted in his imprisonment. Jimmy informs Dave that Celeste thinks Dave murdered Katie. Jimmy tells Dave he will let him live if Dave confesses. However, Dave reveals to Jimmy that he did kill someone that night, but it was not Katie; he beat a child molester to death after finding him abusing a child prostitute in a car. Jimmy does not believe Dave's claim and threatens him with a knife. With this threat, Dave falsely admits to killing Katie, thinking he can escape with his life, but Jimmy kills him and disposes of his body in the adjacent Mystic River.
While Dave is being killed, Brendan (having found out about his father's gun during questioning) confronts his younger brother "Silent Ray" and his friend John O'Shea about Katie's murder. He beats the two boys and threatens to kill them if they do not admit their guilt. As John takes the gun and is about to shoot Brendan, Sean and Whitey arrive and stop it.
The next morning, Sean tells Jimmy that John and Silent Ray confessed to killing Katie. It was all part of a prank gone violently wrong. The kids got hold of Just Ray's gun and saw a car coming which happened to be Katie's. John aimed the gun just to scare her, but the gun went off by accident. The car veered onto the curb and Katie got out and ran into the park. Silent Ray and John pursued her so she would not tell anyone. The beating Katie received was from Silent Ray, who had a hockey stick. Once she was beaten, John shot her again, killing her. Sean asks Jimmy if he has seen Dave, because he is wanted for questioning in another case, the murder of a known child molester. A distraught Jimmy thanks Sean for finding his daughter's killers, but says, "if only you had been a little faster." Sean then asks Jimmy if he is going to "send Celeste Boyle $500 a month too?"
Sean reunites with his wife and his daughter Nora, after apologizing for "pushing her away". Jimmy goes to his wife, Annabeth, and confesses. She comforts him and tells him he is a king and kings always make the right decision. At a town parade, Dave's son is sad as he waits for his father, Sean sees Jimmy and mimics firing a gun with his hand, to let Jimmy know he is coming for him as Jimmy spreads his arms that he is ready too.
- Sean Penn as James "Jimmy" Markum
- Jason Kelly as young Jimmy Markum
- Tim Robbins as Dave Boyle
- Cameron Bowen as young Dave Boyle
- Kevin Bacon as Detective Sean Devine
- Connor Paolo as young Sean Devine
- Laurence Fishburne as Detective Sergeant Whitey Powers
- Marcia Gay Harden as Celeste Samarco Boyle
- Laura Linney as Annabeth Markum
- Tom Guiry as Brendan Harris
- Spencer Treat Clark as “Silent Ray” Harris, Jr.
- Andrew Mackin as John O'Shea
- Emmy Rossum as Katie Markum
- Jenny O'Hara as Esther Harris
- Kevin Chapman as Val Savage
- Adam Nelson as Nick Savage
- Robert Wahlberg as Kevin Savage
- Cayden Boyd as Michael Boyle
- John Doman as Driver
- Tori Davis as Lauren Devine
- Jonathan Togo as Pete
- Will Lyman as FBI Special Agent Birden
- Ari Graynor as Eve Pigeon
- Ken Cheeseman as Dave's Friend in Bar
- Michael McGovern as 1975 reporter
- Kevin Conway (uncredited) as Theo
- Eli Wallach (uncredited) as Mr. Loonie
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 88% based on 206 reviews, with an average rating of 7.77/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Anchored by the exceptional acting of its strong cast, Mystic River is a somber drama that unfolds in layers and conveys the tragedy of its story with visceral power." At the website Metacritic, which utilizes a normalized rating system, the film has a weighted average score of 84 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote "Clint Eastwood pours everything he knows about directing into Mystic River. His film sneaks up, messes with your head, and then floors you. You can't shake it. It's that haunting, that hypnotic."
The film earned $156,822,020 worldwide with $90,135,191 in the United States and $66,686,829 in the international box office, which is significantly higher than the film's $30 million budget.
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