MYSTIC RIVER

Content -2
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: October 08, 2003

Starring: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurence Fishburne, and Laura Linney

Genre: Mystery Thriller

Audience: Older teenagers and
adults REVIEWER: Dr. Tom
Snyder MYSTIC RIVER is an
effective mystery thriller
directed by Clint Eastwood
that displays its paperback
mystery novel roots near the
end. The acting is very good,
but the story has a few
dramatic problems that
eventually undermine the
actors' efforts. The story
opens with three boys playing
stick hockey in Boston. One of
the boys, Jimmy, tries to get
the other two, Dave and Sean,
interested in taking a joy
ride in a car. When the other
two refuse, he convinces them
to write their names in a
freshly poured cement
sidewalk. Dave is only able to
write the first two letters of
his name when a policeman
pulls up and berates the boys
for vandalizing public
property. Dave lives a few
blocks away, so the policeman
makes Dave get into his car,
where an older man wearing a
crucifix sits waiting. Four
days later, Dave escapes from
these pedophiles, who locked
him in a basement
somewhere. Thirty years after
this incident, Dave, Jimmy,
and Sean have grown to go
their separate ways. Although
Dave has become a family man
with a young son whom he
treasures, he has drifted from
job to job and has trouble
focusing on things. Jimmy is a
widowed ex-con with a
rebellious 19-year-old
daughter, Katie, and two other
daughters from his second
marriage. Sean is now a
homicide detective trying to
convince his wife to come back
home to him. One night, Dave
comes home at 3 a.m. with
blood on his hands and an
apparent knife wound. He tells
his wife Celeste that he
thinks he killed a mugger who
tried to attack him. That
morning, Jimmy's daughter
Katie is found shot and beaten
to death. Suspicion lands on
Dave, who happened to be in
the last bar that Katie and
her two girlfriends visited.
Katie's two gun wounds,
however, are matched up with a
gun owned by Jimmy's former
crime buddy who disappeared
years ago after betraying
Jimmy to the cops. One of the
buddy's sons was planning to
run away to Vegas with Katie
the day she was found
murdered. Sean Penn, Tim
Robbins, Kevin Bacon, and
especially Marcia Gay Harden
deliver excellent performances
as Jimmy, Dave, Sean, and
Dave's wife Celeste. Laurence
Fishburne provides very solid
support as Sean's partner
Whitey. The story in which
their characters are involved,
however, takes some
predictable and
not-so-predictable turns and
twists that are too typical of
the type of medium-level
mystery thriller lurking
around too many bookstalls in
American airports. Ultimately,
despite the high level of the
acting, the characters and
their story probably will not
inspire many average
moviegoers, even mystery fans,
to repeated viewings of MYSTIC
RIVER. That said, the sex and
violence in MYSTIC RIVER is
not as lurid as a brief
description of the story would
suggest. Most of it is implied
rather than depicted in
detail. The movie does,
however, have plenty of very
strong foul language. Also,
although one of the pedophiles
who spirit Dave away wears a
crucifix, there is a brief
scene at the Christian
confirmation of one of Jimmy's
younger daughters. The movie
could have used more scenes
like this with Jimmy's family
to delineate better for the
audience what kind of father
and husband Jimmy is. The
humanist worldview of MYSTIC
RIVER appears to take the
position that past traumatic
events and tragic coincidences
can shape people's lives, even
though people also have a
responsibility as to how well
they respond to such traumatic
events. Jimmy, Dave, and
Celeste make wrong decisions
that lead to new tragedies,
but even Sean, the least
morally conflicted and
troubled of the major
characters, makes decisions
that fail to prevent those
tragedies. On the positive
side, there is a strong sense
of the evil of sin in this
movie. Sin has real
consequences in the story of
these people's lives. That is
perhaps the most positive
message viewers can take away
from MYSTIC RIVER. Please
address your comments
to: Barry M. Meyer,
Chairman/CEO Warner Bros.,
Inc. 4000 Warner
Blvd. Burbank, CA
91522-0001 Phone: (818)
954-6000 Website:
www.movies.warnerbros.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 137 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(H, B, Ab, C, LLL, VV, S, N, AA, D, M) Light humanist worldview where past traumatic events shape people's lives, but story appears to contain a strong sense of the evil of sin and its consequences, with brief anti-Christian element where pedophile wears a crucifix but there are other minor references to the Roman Catholic and Christian faith of some of the characters and their environment; about 101 mostly strong obscenities, 12 strong profanities, nine light profanities, man goes to urinal, and man vomits; moderate crime violence such as man comes home with blood on hands and knife wound, corpse of murder victim with cuts and bruises on her face, fighting, stabbing, and implied gunshot to the head; implied pedophilia (nothing shown), passionate kissing, and married couple start to make out on bed but scene cuts away before anything revealing happens; upper male nudity; alcohol use and man plied with liquor until he reaches a light stupor; smoking; and, lying and criminal behavior.

GENRE: Mystery Thriller

H

B

Ab

C

LLL

N

AA

D

M

VV

S

Summary:

MYSTIC RIVER stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon as three childhood friends in Boston whose separate adult lives are turned upside down when one of their children is murdered. The acting is excellent but is undermined by some story problems, lots of strong foul language, and an unsatisfying humanist perspective on the effect of fate and circumstance on human beings.

Review:

MYSTIC RIVER is an effective mystery thriller directed by Clint Eastwood that displays its paperback mystery novel roots near the end. The acting is very good, but the story has a few dramatic problems that eventually undermine the actors' efforts.

The story opens with three boys playing stick hockey in Boston. One of the boys, Jimmy, tries to get the other two, Dave and Sean, interested in taking a joy ride in a car. When the other two refuse, he convinces them to write their names in a freshly poured cement sidewalk. Dave is only able to write the first two letters of his name when a policeman pulls up and berates the boys for vandalizing public property. Dave lives a few blocks away, so the policeman makes Dave get into his car, where an older man wearing a crucifix sits waiting. Four days later, Dave escapes from these pedophiles, who locked him in a basement somewhere.

Thirty years after this incident, Dave, Jimmy, and Sean have grown to go their separate ways. Although Dave has become a family man with a young son whom he treasures, he has drifted from job to job and has trouble focusing on things. Jimmy is a widowed ex-con with a rebellious 19-year-old daughter, Katie, and two other daughters from his second marriage. Sean is now a homicide detective trying to convince his wife to come back home to him.

One night, Dave comes home at 3 a.m. with blood on his hands and an apparent knife wound. He tells his wife Celeste that he thinks he killed a mugger who tried to attack him. That morning, Jimmy's daughter Katie is found shot and beaten to death. Suspicion lands on Dave, who happened to be in the last bar that Katie and her two girlfriends visited. Katie's two gun wounds, however, are matched up with a gun owned by Jimmy's former crime buddy who disappeared years ago after betraying Jimmy to the cops. One of the buddy's sons was planning to run away to Vegas with Katie the day she was found murdered.

Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, and especially Marcia Gay Harden deliver excellent performances as Jimmy, Dave, Sean, and Dave's wife Celeste. Laurence Fishburne provides very solid support as Sean's partner Whitey. The story in which their characters are involved, however, takes some predictable and not-so-predictable turns and twists that are too typical of the type of medium-level mystery thriller lurking around too many bookstalls in American airports. Ultimately, despite the high level of the acting, the characters and their story probably will not inspire many average moviegoers, even mystery fans, to repeated viewings of MYSTIC RIVER.

That said, the sex and violence in MYSTIC RIVER is not as lurid as a brief description of the story would suggest. Most of it is implied rather than depicted in detail. The movie does, however, have plenty of very strong foul language. Also, although one of the pedophiles who spirit Dave away wears a crucifix, there is a brief scene at the Christian confirmation of one of Jimmy's younger daughters. The movie could have used more scenes like this with Jimmy's family to delineate better for the audience what kind of father and husband Jimmy is.

The humanist worldview of MYSTIC RIVER appears to take the position that past traumatic events and tragic coincidences can shape people's lives, even though people also have a responsibility as to how well they respond to such traumatic events. Jimmy, Dave, and Celeste make wrong decisions that lead to new tragedies, but even Sean, the least morally conflicted and troubled of the major characters, makes decisions that fail to prevent those tragedies. On the positive side, there is a strong sense of the evil of sin in this movie. Sin has real consequences in the story of these people's lives. That is perhaps the most positive message viewers can take away from MYSTIC RIVER.

Please address your comments to:

Barry M. Meyer, Chairman/CEO

Warner Bros., Inc.

4000 Warner Blvd.

Burbank, CA 91522-0001

Phone: (818) 954-6000

Website: www.movies.warnerbros.com

SUMMARY: MYSTIC RIVER stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon as three childhood friends in Boston whose separate adult lives are turned upside down when one of their children is murdered. The acting is excellent but is undermined by some story problems, lots of strong foul language, and an unsatisfying humanist perspective on the effect of fate and circumstance on human beings.

In Brief: