This is the story of the tragic arc traced by the relationship of three friends. Kevin Bacon isa cop, Sean Penn is a shady grocery store owner, and Tim Robbins is a hollow man, irreperablydamaged after being kidnapped by paedophiles as a youth. The three had grown apart, but theirlives intersect fatefully when Penn’s daughter is murdered. Bacon investigates the case, andRobbins cannot satisfactorily account for his actions the night of the murder, much to themounting distre…s of his wife.
The sense of place in the film (in this case, working class Boston) is impeccable. Thoughmuch has been said about the film’s directorial restraint, this is still quite a collection of scenery-chewing roles we have here, especially Penn, but Marcia Gay Harden goes big big BIG too. Theperformances are in character, however, and the film works wonderfully as both a policeinvestigation and a working class tragedy. Where there is a fumble is in the conclusion. Thedialogue suddenly takes on metaphorical weight it has not earned, and Laura Linney’s LadyMacbeth speech comes out of nowhere. This isn’t enough to ruin an otherwise fine film, but it isdisappointing to see a stumble at the finishing line.
Sobs and cries notwithstanding, this is for the most part a quiet film, one that doesn’t reallyallow a 5.1 mix to pull out all the stops. The dialogue is perfectly clear, and the music (composedby Eastwood) comes across very well. Though there aren’t many surround sound effects (andthere are missed opportunities, such as a scene in a crowded bar), when they are present (thepolice helicopter, for example), they are nicely done.
It is in the picture that the film’s restraint is perhaps best captured. The colours are muted,but ring true, and the bleaching that occurs in full sunlight is a good, gritty touch. The 2.35:1anamorphic widescreen transfer is sharp, has excellent blacks, and has no grain or edgeenhancement.
On Disc 1, the extra is the commentary by Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins. They spend a fairbit of time praising everything and everybody, but they have some interesting thoughts as well.Robbins’ defense of the Lady Macbeth scene is intriguing, but sidesteps the issue of what onEarth we knew of Laura Linney’s character that could have made such a momentconvincing.
Disc 2 has two featurettes, “Mystic River: Beneath the Surface” and “Mystic River: FromPage to Screen.” The former is twice the length of the latter’s 12 minutes, and both are fairlystandard making-of promotions. Yet more thoughts from Eastwood, Robbins and Bacon areprovided by three Charlie Rose interviews. Also here: the theatrical teaser and trailer. Themenu’s main screen is scored and features a parade of still images.
The third disc, unavailable for review, is the CD soundtrack.
I do think the features could have been combined on a single disc, as Disc 2 isn’t particularlyloaded. Still, this is easily Eastwood’s best movie since Unforgiven, and eminently worthseeing.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “Mystic River: Beneath the Surface” Featurette
- “Mystic River: From Page to Screen” Featurette
- Charlie Rose Interviews
- Theatrical Trailer and Teaser
- CD Soundtrack