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Glossy Mediocrity
A review of Mystic River
by Matt Mason

Well, my ma always said you should start with what's positive, so here goes: the acting is truly spectacular and the camera work excellent.

Director: Clint Eastwood

Stars: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney

Rating: R

Release: 10-08-2003

Time: 137 minutes

Buy Movie at Amazon.com Aside from that, though, there's something crappy in the state of Denmark.

First off, it's got the title of "Mystic River," something full of varied resonances which could be played up well. Or ignored. Which it does; may as well be called "Mud Shoal Creek" or "Kraft Macaroni and Cheese."

Then there's the story, full of interesting elements which don't fit together well at all. I like the psuedo Greek-tragic thing working its way through, but it never makes it feel complete or justified, just comes across as grand aspirations edited down to sensationalistic storytelling.

The basic story is how these three kids who played together and later become Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon somehow deal with resonances from one of them being abducted and molested as a child. As grown ups, a daughter of one dies and all three, though estranged over time, drift back together.

The problem is, the abduction is somehow a big thing for the three but it's hard to say just how or why most of the time. Robbins has some good scenes, but all in all it just feels like a lot of transitions were left on the editing room floor.

And don't get me started on the whole Kevin Bacon and the estranged marriage to a pair of red lips... brother....

Seriously, though, it can be somewhat interesting and, apart from a strange breakdown in the last 10 minutes, the acting is phenomenal. Unfortunately, it ultimately comes down as empty and out-of-touch for me by then.