182: Mystic River

Mystic River (R) - 2003 - Runtime: 137 minutes
Starring: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon
Director: Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood must really love misery. Like love it. If he could marry an emotion, I'm sure we'd be reading about how much they make a great couple. Just look at his directing resume. Seriously. Nothing but downers - even Space Cowboys doesn't really stand out as a "feel-good" movie.

I mean, I don't expect Eastwood to go ahead and direct something like Happy Feet. Although as a side note, I think Eastwood's version of Happy Feet would be, if nothing else, very interesting. I'm sure it would include a penguin serial killer and a really awful penguin rape scene (too far?).

Mystic River is one of my Kevin Bacon movies. Weird choice, right? But I've always wanted to check this one out and after watching Gone Baby Gone and really liking it and also reading another Dennis Lehane novel, Shutter Island (which I'm uber-excited about, but also uber-disappointed that they moved it back to February) and falling in love with that book, I thought I'd really enjoy this movie. So I figured I was in for a treat - murder, mystery, past lives affecting the future. It all sounds so good.

But then the misery comes into this movie and sucks any sort of life out of it. If you don't know already, the movie follows three childhood friends who've parted ways after an incident where one of them gets abducted by a child molester. Fast forward twenty-five years later and one of the friend's daughter is found dead in the park. And it becomes quite clear to some that the formerly abducted kid (now a parent himself) has been involved.

I guess I just don't understand why most people I talk to love this movie. Sure, there's some good, Oscar-worthy performances, but man this movie just beats you over the head with melodrama and moral dilemmas. Gone Baby Gone was the same way, but I never felt cheapened by the surprise twist at the end, nor being spoon-fed how to feel about the movie. And the ending is a big problem for me in this movie. I found that the motivation for the killer was a cop-out and lazy. And Laura Linney's monologue at the end was just so pretentious and obviously trying to say something (and we're supposed to believe that the movie's giving us this moral dilemma without an answer, but really Eastwood is winking at the camera, saying "Here's how you're supposed to see this movie.")

So if you love misery (and who doesn't nowadays, right?) and love Eastwood and love Sean Penn acting all crazy, this is definitely your movie. But otherwise, you can just skip this somber, heavy-handed slow burner of a movie.

Rating: Not Worth Paying For

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