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Other Movies


Mystic River: Review

Clint Eastwood's latest work, "Mystic River" -- releasing in  Chennai 15 months after it was premiered at Cannes in the summer  of 2003 -- is powerful piece of cinema. Riveting, yet deeply  disturbing, this film works on several layers to capture and  comment on the sheer ambiguity of human ties, and how such  mystifying moments can lead to brutal destruction of life.

The movie, much like the baffling ripples of a river, depresses  you with the abnormality of human mind: child rape, murder and  revenge. Eastwood pans his camera across an Irish neighbourhood  in Boston to draw us into a dilemma; at the end of this visual  voyage, we are left distraught, for we do not know who is the  victor and who the vanquished, who is innocent and who is guilty. There is strange blurring of images and thoughts, perhaps in the same way that a river foxes you with its undercurrents.

Sean Penn and Emmy Rossum

Eastwood directs "Mystic River"  with    a firm grip on thenarrative. Dave, played marvellously by   Tim Robbins, portrays the terrible pain of having been molested as a child, and the  misfortune of being mistrusted and betrayed as an adult. Sean  Penn as Jimmy offers a brilliant performance (which got him the Oscar for the Best Actor in February 2004) as the father of a  vivacious 19-year-old girl, a victim of an unfortunate  circumstance. When daughter Katie dies a day before she is to  elope with her boyfriend, Jimmy is so grieved that he vows to catch the killer before the cops do. Penn's emotional scenes are so extraordinary that one is happy to find him growing from movie to movie.His role in "Dead Man Walking" was certainly classic.

I really would not want to divulge more about the story, for that would mean a little less of drama for the viewer. But  "Mystic River" curls up like a mass of weeds that underlines the  darkness of a tragedy, nay many tragedies: the incurable trauma  of child rape, the climate of violence which the gun culture in the U.S. encourages, and the loss of innocence and trust that it  begets.

Eastwood and his screenwriter, Brian Helgeland, have been  faithful to the sense of place that makes Dennis Lehane's book --  on which "Mystic River" is based -- a superior piece of crime  fiction. Much of the dialogue has been taken directly from the  pages of the tome: the sordid, fatalistic drawl of a rather uncouth suburb of Boston has not just been retained, but  fortified to produce an almost sensational hiss.

"Mystic River" certainly left me with a sense of sadness that  bordered on pain and bitterness. Eastwood has undoubtedly created  a moving parable, which does not exactly entertain -- it is not  meant to, in case -- but which ought to provoke audiences into  higher realm of debate.

A word of caution here: this work is not for those below 18, and  for those too who look at cinema as merely an instrument of  amusement.

(This review appeared in The Hindu dated August 27 2004)

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