Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Mystic River


This movie is so far above your typical murder mystery that it would be better to invent a whole new genre to contain it. I read the book—twice. Once when it was new, as I’m a major fan of Dennis Lehane, and once again when the movie was about to be released, because of the complexity of the plot, and because I didn’t want to miss any detail, any nuance, if it was as good as I was hoping it would be. It was all that, and more. Aside from the fact that I’d have cast someone other than Sean Penn in the lead (mostly because it always takes me 10 minutes or so to get past the fact that I really don’t like Sean Penn, and to the point that I admit, once more, that he’s a helluva fine actor in spite of my prejudice) (sort of like Tom Cruise, though not so extreme), there is nothing I would do differently here. Clint Eastwood has done it again. This is a story that contains three of the absolute worst things that can happen to people. It is about how our past follows us and can condemn us, about the things a terrible loss can push us to do, and about the effects of having done something while believing you are right and then finding it was terribly wrong. But it goes even further. Suppose you had done something awful, something you would have thought it was impossible to live with. … and then found that not only could you live with it, but that you had to, that suicide or even turning yourself in would only compound the horror and destroy more innocent lives. What does that make you? A monster? On one level, to be sure. But there are always other levels. And in the end it is you who will be carrying the burden of your great sin to your dying day …

Completely off the subject of Mystic River … I see at the IMDb that Clint Eastwood seems to be finishing up an amazing project: two films are scheduled for 2006 release. One is Flags of Our Fathers in October, which is about the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima, the ones in that Pulitzer Prize photo. The other is Red Sun, Black Sand (later, Letters From Iwo Jima) in December, which is about the defenders of Iwo. What a concept! If he can pull it off, it should blow that old war-horse Tora! Tora! Tora! out of the water!