Starring: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Tom Guiry, Emmy Rossum
Director: Clint Eastwood
Summary: With a childhood tragedy that overshadowed their lives, three men are reunited by circumstance when one has a family tragedy
Other Nominations: Director, Actor (Penn)*, Supporting Actor (Robbins)*, Supporting Actress (Gay Harden), Adapted Screenplay
Mystic River is well acted and well directed, although it definitely fell off towards the end for me. It’s rare for a movie to receive 2 Oscars for acting and three nominations, but here it’s mostly understandable. Robbins gives his performance like he always has a weight on his mind, as a person who can’t shake his past and is doomed to live out the rest of it as a sort of ghost; him and his wife (played by Gay Harden) are the two highlights for me-she feels like a normal person who has been sucked into this horrifying situation where she believes her husband has committed some horrible act and she’s simply overwhelmed by it. For both of these actors, they do a good job of playing realistically vulnerable, something that’s not always easy. As for Penn, I’ve never been much of a fan of his (some of it certainly owed to the kind of person he comes across as in real life), but he certainly gives a very capable performance even if I’m not sure I would have given him an Oscar for it.
The script is solid and it builds effectively, but the end result of the mystery comes off as lame-there was almost no foreshadowing for the reveal, and the motivations behind it are extremely anti-climactic in an unsatisfying way. Also, it feels contrived when two critical pieces of information that have gone unnoticed or unfound for weeks just happen to both come to light at exactly the moment after they would have been extremely useful to know for the characters. Something similar goes for the stuff we see about Linney’s character at the end as well-there was nothing previously indicating anything like it and it’s also not really relevant to much of anything so I’m not sure why they bothered going in as hard a direction as they did. The performances and the build-up towards the end were enjoyable for me, but the last 20 minutes come off as unsatisfying and hurt what was previously a very solid film that deserved a better conclusion.