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Mystic River’ delivers drama, intrigue

Julie Hynes | Monday, September 20, 2004

Clint Eastwood’s “Mystic River” might be the most scintillating crime film coming out on DVD in recent weeks. Based on the best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane, the film is sure to keep your interest piqued for the duration. The movie also boasts an all-star cast including Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon and Laurence Fishburne. “Mystic River” starts out by flashing back 25 years ago to a fateful day on the streets of Boston. Jimmy Markum (Penn), Dave Boyle (Robbins) and Sean Devine (Bacon) are playing a game of stickball when a car rolls up and a well-dressed gentlemen steps out identifying himself as a police officer. He lectures the boys, sending Jimmy and Sean home. The officer tells Dave he must get into his car because the officer is going to drive him home. At this point the audience has an inkling that something is not quite right with this set up; there is an ominous feeling that one cannot shake as the car rolls away. It turns out the well dressed man is no police officer. He is in fact a sex offender. Luckily, Dave is able to escape after a horrifying experience and returns home. But it is here that “Mystic River” raises one of several thought provoking questions. Can victims of such violent sexual abuse really go on with their lives? Twenty-five years later something about him is definitely disconcerting. There is an emptiness in his blue eyes that one can’t help but notice. Tragedy strikes the community and brings Jimmy, Dave and Sean together again when Jimmy’s daughter Katie is brutally murdered after a night out with the girls. The police know that Dave was at the bar Katie was last seen at that night; they do not know that the very same night he came home covered in blood with a fuzzy story about killing a sex offender.As the film progresses, Dave becomes more and more of a prominent suspect. His wife looks through the paper each day hoping to find support for her husband’s story with no luck. Can Sean solve this homicide before Jimmy decides to take matters into his own hands?The cast in “Mystic River” couldn’t be stronger. Penn gives a great performance as an ex-con. The audience is truly wary as to what he may do next and he’s definitely not someone to mess with. Robbins gives a haunting performance. It is impossible to determine if his character is a dangerous killer or a guy who just hasn’t been completely there since that fateful car ride. Bacon helps give the movie a balanced feel as his character keeps his wits about him in the midst of chaos. Fishburne has a supporting role as one of the investigators of the murder. “Mystic River” will not disappoint. It is hard to do the film justice on paper because it is impossible to cover all of the complex, varying subplots and to write about all of the twists that would ruin the movie for those who haven’t seen it. But do yourself the favor of renting it. It’s a great alternative to the always-enjoyable romantic comedy that often finds its way into a dorm DVD player. Popcorn is recommended – you will need something to chew nervously on during the intensely suspenseful moments.