Mystic River

LetterboxD review link

Mystic River isn’t Clint Eastwood’s finest film – Unforgiven is still the undisputed best from him, in my mind – but I think it makes a strong entry for his 2nd best film. A tightly paced, well executed and edited story that plays well as a police thriller, Americana/how-we-live-our-lives picture, or moral philosophy story.

It is clear that Eastwood is an actor’s director. His toolkit is not made of flashy camera tricks, brilliant lighting or framing choices, or any impressive technical ability. Instead, the best parts of this film are the casting choices and the canvas made available to each actor to bring their best performances forward. Sean Penn’s much lauded performance is totally worth the hype. But performances by Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Tom Guiry, and Kevin Bacon are worth commendation too. Even small parts, like Emmy Rossum’s few minutes on screen, are given full consideration. This level of investment in acting ends up elevating the whole film, and brings it up a few notches above what another film with similarly well-trodden story paths or minimalist directing might have landed.