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Monday, May 26, 2008

MYSTIC RIVER (2003)

With its blue-tinged chill, stoppered violence and masterly pacing, Clint Eastwood’s Boston-based tale of lost friendship, lost innocence and moral corruption uses classic police procedural/murder mystery forms to chart a deeper course. But graceful technique can’t disguise a third act that requires each major player to move off character to beget tragedy. ***POSSIBLE SPOILERS HERE*** Out of the blue, an underutilized Laura Linney becomes a dragon lady; Marcia Gay Harden would never believe the worst of her husband, let alone share her doubts with anyone; Tim Robbins would never confess to a crime he did not commit; Kevin Bacon would willingly take down a childhood pal if only to get two crumbum wiseguys off the street, and if not him, he’d let his partner (Lawrence Fishburne) do it; and Sean Penn would be too weak to kill once, let alone twice. In a more stylized form this might play, but in the "kitchen sink" realism Eastwood has misguidedly extracted from what must be a remarkably overwritten novel, it’s all too neat. But watch the film for Kevin Bacon, not only because he’s so good, but because he’s so like Eastwood in his ‘70s prime, yet aware & technically skilled as an actor in a manner Eastwood never was.

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