Saturday, February 28, 2004

Mystic River

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 23 February 2004 at AMC Fenway #11 (awards re-release)

Clint Eastwood is one of those directors whose principle talent, at first glance, seems to be staying out of the way. You don't really notice Clint's hand on Mystic River; everything that is good about it seems to be coming from writers Dennis Lahane (novel) and Brian Helgeland (script) and the top-notch cast. Yet the movie works as more than the sum of its parts, what could have been "merely" a solid crime drama instead becomes an exceptional movie.

Okay, so I laughed at some of the accents (nobody I know talks like that, although I admittedly live in Harvard Square as opposed to Roxbury or Charlestown). But otherwise, this is a movie without much in the way of artifice. The only thing that can even vaguely be called an editing trick is a flashback, and occasionally thick accents aside, the acting is very good, with an exception or two - mainly, I think Marcia Gay Harden overdoes it a little, but otherwise the cast is strong.

What impressed me the most, I think, was that Eastwood was able to balance the dramatic, interior story - the stuff that's about the characters of these three men who knew each other as kids, but went different directions after one was kidnapped and abused - with the police procedural aspects. Most of the time, while watching a movie like this, I notice that the crime which served as the kickoff for the story gets lost, or the movie becomes a strict procedural with interesting, well-played characters aggravatingly on the periphery. Mystic River, however, works as both a crime DRAMA and a CRIME drama, so to speak.

No comments: