Mystic River on DVD
Mystic River is the kind of film that was made strictly for actors, directors,
writers, and cinematographers to show what theyre made of.
Its a tense, character-driven drama with no special effects or action
sequences. Its a film that won its only two Oscars in the acting categories.
Its a film that makes you appreciate a really good screenplay. And its
a film that makes you feel as if youre watching a really long episode
of Law & Order that has nothing but the most talented people in Hollywood
Jimmy, Sean and Dave were friends as kids. They played hockey on the street,
talked about stealing cars, and wrote their names in cement.
One day, while defacing some public property, they draw the attention of two
men who appear to be cops. Dave is taken away, while Jimmy and Sean go to get
help. As it turns out, the two men are child molesters waiting for a prime opportunity,
and Dave provided them with such. The three boys friendship ends, and
falls into nodding to each other on the street territory.
Twenty-five years later, when Jimmys daughter is brutally murdered, the
three of them are brought back together as Sean is the detective in charge of
the case and Dave is a prime suspect.
Having read the book, I was intrigued to see how it would be brought to the
big screen. I knew it would be quite a challenge for everyone involved; they
would have to get a great screenwriter, great actors, and a great director of
actors. Plus, there are so many intricate details and plot elements that it
would need to be a seven hour movie to get everything in there.
Enter Brian Helgeland. An Oscar-nominated screenwriter of such films as L.A.
Confidential (and to lesser success, The Order), he manages to capture the power
of the book while keeping the most important details in the story. The characters
all still have their demons to work out, but you cant help but feel that
if theyd just tell the truth from the start, they could all avoid a whole
lot of crap.
Then you have Clint Eastwood. While he may not be the greatest actor in the
world, and he doesnt have the most obvious visual style, you cant
deny his ability to get great performances from great actors. Sean Penn and
Tim Robbins both won very deserving Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting
Actor, respectively. Penn blubbers his way through much of the film, but his
knack for portraying several different emotions at once with such intensity
almost make you feel them as well.
Robbins, who I like as an actor but not as a person, gives possibly his best
performance to date. Dave Boyle is a man with problems, and Robbins does an
excellent job of combining a complete lack of emotion with intense emotional
fluctuations. The rest of the cast are almost as good, but their characters
just arent as significant. Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay
Harden and Laura Linney all deserve notice.
Unfortunately, as well made as the movie is, the story itself just feels like
more of the same. Weve all seen murders and investigations and fine actors
as fine characters a million times before. Its the overall quality of
Mystic River that makes it stand out against all the others.
If youre in the mood for a gut-wrenching, emotional tale filled with
some of Hollywoods finest talent, this is about as good as it gets.
Mystic River is available in three versions: widescreen and full screen two-disc
sets, and a three-disc deluxe edition that includes the films soundtrack.
We received the widescreen two-disc special edition.
Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, the picture quality is for the most
part superb, though a little soft in places. Color and detail are perfectly
sharp and crisp, and scenes set in the past feature a slightly muddy quality
that works well. Audio is also very good, with a bass soundtrack that fills
the room nicely. Surrounds are fairly reserved, handling only background effects
like birds chirping or cars driving.
Disc one features an audio commentary by Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon. Despite
both being talented and well-respected actors, they dont seem to have
a lot of interest to say. Robbins does talk a bit about motivations as an actor
and director, but overall the track is pretty dry.
Pop in disc two and youll be treated to a series of featurettes and interviews.
Beneath the Surface is a 22-minute series of interviews with the
principal players, including Eastwood, Penn, Helgeland, Robbins, Bacon, Harden,
Linney, and novelist Dennis Lehane. Development of the project is frequently
discussed, as well as Eastwoods choices for actors.
Make sure you watch this feature after youve seen the movie however,
because major plot details may (or may not) be revealed.
From Page to Screen is half the length and more script-related,
and features clips from the same set of interviews.
Three Charlie Rose Show interviews with Eastwood, Robbins (each 48 minutes)
and Bacon (19 minutes) are included. I always enjoy these interviews. Rose is
never condescending and usually asks good questions, so the interviewees can
usually talk about interesting things. We learn a lot about the movies themselves,
and about the people, as well.
Finally, we get the films theatrical teaser and trailer, presented in
anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital.
Mystic River, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
138 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital
Starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay
Harden, Laura Linney
Produced by Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Judie G. Hoyt
Screenplay by Brian Helgeland, Directed by Clint Eastwood
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