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Mystic River (2003)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  15 October 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 318,762 users   Metascore: 84/100
Reviews: 922 user | 225 critic | 42 from

With a childhood tragedy that overshadowed their lives, three men are reunited by circumstance when one has a family tragedy.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 51 wins & 111 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Brendan Harris (as Thomas Guiry)
Andrew Mackin ...


In the summer of 1975 in a neighborhood in Boston, 3 kids, Dave Boyle and two of his friends, Jimmy and Sean, are playing on the sidewalk when Dave gets abducted by two men and endures several days of sexual abuse. Eventually, Dave escapes traumatized throughout adulthood. Jimmy is an ex-con and a father of three, whose daughter Katie, is found dead and Dave becomes the number one suspect. Sean is a homicide detective, investigating Katie's murder, ends up finding himself faced with past and present demons as more is uncovered about Katie's murder. Learning Katie had a boyfriend, ballistics later turn up a gun belonging to the father, which then puts her boyfriend as the suspect. Will Sean find out who killed Katie? Will Jimmy make it through the investigation? And will Dave ever find out what really happened when he was abducted? Written by michigans_finest

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


We bury our sins, we wash them clean. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

15 October 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Río místico  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$640,815 (USA) (10 October 2003)


$90,135,191 (USA) (21 May 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The liquor store scene was shot at Costello's, a liquor store on Boylston Street in the Back Bay, next to Berklee College of Music. After filming, screen shots from that scene were placed in the front display windows. Costello's closed in January 2007. See more »


In early street scenes, set in the '70s, there's a "no trucking" sign on a pole that employs the red circle with the line through it, 1980s style. See more »


[first lines]
Radio Announcer #1: ...before the end of the season last year, and then re-injured it in spring training on a terrific game-saving play. You know, I was talking with...
Sean's Father: What time is this going on?
Jimmy's Father: 7:30 is the pre-game.
Sean's Father: Who'd you say was pitching tonight?
Jimmy's Father: Tiant's pitching.
Sean's Father: Goddamn Cuban, man. He can hurl it.
Jimmy's Father: I'd hate to be facing him.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Warner Bros and Village Roadshow Logos at the beginning of the film, are not animated. They are both coloured Grey and stay in the middle of the screen. See more »


Referenced in At the Movies: 25 Years of Margaret & David (2011) See more »


Theme from Mystic River
Written by Clint Eastwood
Performed by Clint Eastwood
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

to rank among the 5 best movies made in 2003
23 April 2005 | by See all my reviews

Let's say it straight away: before "Mystic River" (2003), Clint Eastwood's last works had left me a little unsatisfied; particularly "Blood Work" (2002), a watchable thriller with a certain charm but without great originality. But the following year, with "Mystic River", he made a sensational comeback and quite obviously this movie, which critically and commercially gave a boost to his career is his most accomplished since "Unforgiven" (1992).

By watching "Mystic River" one can feel that Clint Eastwood, more than ever put a lot of effort into the elaboration of his movie. From a subtle screenplay written by Brian Helgeland who shows that he is a far better scriptwriter than director (as far as I'm concerned, I hated the rather insipid "A Knight's Tale" 2001), Eastwood develops an absorbing and ingenious directing which contributes in weaving a shady and even stifling by moments atmosphere. On another extent, Eastwood takes back a way that had worked for him in "Blood Work": favoring calm and patience. And indeed, on an unhurried pace, the film-maker takes all his time to shot the evolution of this detective story. More important, he made this choice for another reason: to do a thorough psychological study of the three main characters. The basis of "Mystic River" consists in a classic detective investigation (nevertheless passionating in its construction) doubled with a relevant description of the three main protagonists.

To watch "Mystic River" is like to find oneself on the edge of a forest and to disappear into it. The more the movie progresses, the more we discover three heart-broken characters because they are linked by dark events. First, Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn). We learn that he has flirted with violence and has spent a few years in jail but he seems to have become a well-behaved man: he works in a grocery store and regularly goes to church. But the death of his daughter crushed him and he is determined to avenge her. Then, Sean Divine (Kevin Bacon) who appears as a reliable and lucid cop but whose private life is hell: he experienced a failed marriage and his wife keeps on harassing him day and night. At last, Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins), a broken father who underwent a deep traumatic experience (he was kidnapped and raped by two men who claimed to be priests). The consequences are terrible: he can't communicate anymore, he can't defend himself anymore and he wanders like a ghostly figure in the streets of his neighborhood. As a matter of fact, this traumatic scene is at the root of the three characters' misfortunes. Being the very first sequence of the movie, it sets the tone of Clint Eastwood's 24th movie. It presents Jimmy, Sean and Dave playing in a street. The sky is gray, the houses of the neighborhood are bare and austere. The ball which disappears through the manhole may symbolize the loss of childhood. Then, a big black car arrives. One of the men gets out and claims to be a priest (or does he?). He orders Dave to go into the car and the latter drives away. This moment will haunt the three boys for the rest of the lives and will deeply influence their personality. Roughly, "Mystic River" demonstrates in a conclusive way how such a past dramatic event can influence our present lives.

In virtually all the critics I have read, "Mystic River" was hailed for its cast. It's true that Penn, Bacon and Robbins rank among the best American actors of their generation and I think we will never thank Eastwood enough for having reunited them. By giving a lot of depth to their respective characters, one can feel that they were giving their all, which can explain why the movie was shot in a rather short time (39 days). They may even never battle their dazzling performances. And the rest of the cast is just as equal as the whole, especially the actresses whose female characters have an important role in the story since they influence (unconsciously or not) their husbands' actions and characters.

To a third degree, Eastwood's major work is also used to denounce the deceptive superficiality of the appearances, the omnipresence of violence and the credulity of many inhabitants. The film opens with an overview of the neighborhood but doesn't show yet that it is devastated by violence. No matter what the time is. Violence is omnipresence and the fact that it touches younger generations proves that it isn't ready to subside.

At last, let's also congratulate Eastwood for the remarkable music he has signed himself with his son. With this music, simplicity rhymes with efficiency. One has just to listen to a few notes to feel an intense emotion inside us.

In the middle of all these qualities, there are just minor faults. So, Bacon is a tormented cop due to his disastrous marriage and however, we really don't know what went wrong with his wife. Is it Dave's kidnapping? Is it his trying job? This point remains ambiguous. Ambiguous is also the adjective that suits the best to qualify the end of the film. What can mean the gesture Bacon makes to Penn? But these two points let freely the way to any possible interpretation.

The contribution of the crew in Eastwood's work is total and so is my enthusiasm for "Mystic River". If you haven't seen it yet, go and watch it. You won't regret it. At the age of 73 years old, "grandad" Clint Eastwood is still in great form and given the recent triumph of "Million Dollar Baby" (2004), he seems to have decided to bring the house down again in the landscape of American cinema for our greatest pleasure.

70 of 128 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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