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The Columbia Journal
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  • Volume Eight, Number Eight: December 2003

    Film Review

    Tom Sandborn

    Mystic River
    Directed by Clint Eastwood
    Starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden and Laura Linney

    Mystic RiverImagine this. It's like a bad dream or an old, dark myth.  Three boys playing on a side street, a square, dark sedan that takes one boy away to a hidden place where men hurt him terribly. It goes on for days. The boy lives through it. He escapes and lives to become a ruined man.   Now, the boy who went away with the men and the boys who stayed behind are all three men, and one's daughter is murdered, the next has become a homicide cop and the last, a stooped, shambling wreck called Dave, looks like the best suspect in the girl's death. Things and men careen out of control. There is more death, more dread.  One child was taken by monsters, and two escaped; now they're in a  cold  hell again together. Hell, or South Boston. Sometimes in this relentlessly bleak movie it's hard to tell the difference.  Clint Eastwood, of all people, has created in "Mystic River" a movie that is both a police procedural and a profound and critical meditation on masculinity and its discontents. It also works, thanks largely to superb performances by Tim Robbins, Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon, as a heart-scaldingly powerful drama. For this triumphant and challenging movie, I am almost willing to forgive Eastwood all those damned Dirty Harry flicks. "Mystic River", while not flawless, especially in some of the sketchily written minor characters behind Penn, Robinson and Bacon's star turns, is already a strong contender  to be one of the most intelligent and adult films to come out of Hollywood this year. It's moving and smart,  worth seeing and arguing over, and will probably take many new readers, as it will me, to the Dennis Lehane novel that inspired it.   

    Playing at The Dunbar, Capitol 6




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