Directorial Excellence: Mystic River

April 20, 2010 at 7:02 pm (Life, Uncategorized)

This movie won 2 Oscars in 2004. Sean Penn for Best Actor in a leading role and Tim Robbins for Best Actor in Supporting Role.

The story involves three childhood friends who have grown up to be distant from each other. They still live in the same town and see each other some times, but are no longer close friends. One of these three, played by Tim Robbins suffers child abuse and it changes him forever. Remember how Tim Robbins has a different beginning in this respect to the other two. I will bring this point into focus later.

Sean Penn is an ex-criminal trying to lead a better life. He has a beautiful daughter, who is murdered at the beginning of the movie. Most of the movie is about uncovering the truth behind the murder, but that is not the purpose of the movie.

The movie tells us how lost innocence is a tragedy. How one moment in ones life changes everything forever for the worse, and how the people who are supposed to protect you and take care of you are the first to misunderstand you. Tim Robbins outperforms Sean Penn by miles. The inner struggle he puts up with, fending off a violent and disturbed sexually abused childhood versus the family man he is supposed to be today, is marvellously portrayed in dark moments in the movie.

Sean Penn does an average job. I believe he does not have enough facial muscle control to bring out too many emotions.

I wrote this post though, to highlight not acting, but direction. Clint Eastwood is THE director nowadays, as almost everyone knows. The last scene of the movie is the highlight in my opinion. It sews together the story of despair and the loss of innocence in the final scene where there is a parade procession. Tim Robbins has been killed by Sean Penn for suspicion of being his daughter’s murderer. The 2 friends left are standing on opposite ends of the parade with their families. Sean Penn is a criminal and Kevin Bacon is a cop. Kevin Bacon stands with his wife who for majority of the movie remains estranged to him. In this setting, Tim Robbin’s wife, played by Marcia Gay Harden is frantically searching for his missing husband. She was the person who led Sean Penn to believe that he might have murdered his daughter.

This brings me to the beginning of the post, the point that I wanted the readers to remember. The scene shows that the 2 extreme characters, one a cop and one a criminal, are alive and well off, where as the average character of Tim Robbins is no more. The symbolism is the extinction of the average class. The innocent perish in todays world.


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