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Mystic River (2003)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  15 October 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 322,298 users   Metascore: 84/100
Reviews: 926 user | 226 critic | 42 from Metacritic.com

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?


Dennis Lehane:  author of the novel can be seen waving from the back of a convertible in the parade sequence. See more »


When Jimmy Markum is drinking whiskey with Celeste Boyle the cap of the bottle is alternately on/off between shots. 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 »


Edited into Mystic River: From Page to Screen (2004) 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

Falls sort of greatness but superb nonetheless
30 November 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Lovers of great acting had best not pass up 'Mystic River,' Clint Eastwood's powerful, award-laden adaptation of Dennis Lehane's best-selling novel. Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon play three working class Bostonians forever bound together by a mutual childhood tragedy that has since gone on to define the kind of people they've become and the kind of lives they've led. The film begins with a brief prologue as we see the three youngsters - Jimmy, Sean and Dave - out playing in the street one day, when they are confronted by a pedophile who, posing as a policeman, tricks one of them, Dave, into getting into the car with him and another man. Fast forward to the present as we pick up the trio as grown men who have, for all intents and purposes, gone their separate ways. Penn is Jimmy Markum, a former petty thief who spent two years in the slammer but who has since turned straight and now owns a neighborhood liquor store. When Jimmy's daughter from his first marriage turns up murdered, the three men's lives intersect in ways they could never have imagined. Bacon is Sean Divine, a homicide detective assigned to the case, and Robbins is Dave Boyle, a sporadically employed man who may be a prime suspect in the murder. Dave still lives with the trauma of that earlier soul-shattering experience, while Jimmy and Sean wrestle with why they managed to escape the cruel finger of fate that pointed so grimly at their hapless playmate. The film is about how the events of our early lives (and, in the case of Jimmy, it doesn't stop at this one incident) can end up coming back to haunt us later down the road.

The Brian Helgeland screenplay makes the pain that each of these men experiences vivid and palpable. The grief Jimmy feels over the loss of his beloved child, the psychological torment Dave suffers as a result of his abuse, and the bewilderment and loneliness Sean experiences from a failed marriage all become integral to this dark tale of bitterness, revenge and attempted healing. At times, we do find ourselves wishing that the script would concentrate less on the details of the murder investigation and more on the inner workings of the three main characters. Too often we feel as if we are only scratching the surface of the roiling psychological torment taking place deep in the bowels of these men. The plotting, particularly towards the end, often feels more contrived than it needs to be, with heavy-handed ironies and obtruding parallelisms that don't seem to know when to leave well enough alone. Laura Linney, as Jimmy's second wife, has a key Lady Macbeth moment late in the film that might have been effective had we been more fully prepared for it and had her character been more thoroughly developed throughout the course of the film. As it is, the scene seems to come out of nowhere and leaves us both bewildered and hanging.

Still, these are minor quibbles when it comes to a movie as finely acted and directed as this one is. Penn hits all the right notes as a man facing the worst experience life could possibly throw at a person - the murder of one's child - trying to make sense of a tragedy that defies any rational explanation. Robbins beautifully underplays the role of a man scarred forever by what happened to him in his youth, now endeavoring to function as an adult when he was robbed of any semblance of a childhood. Bacon is excellent as the man who attempts to put all the pieces together, not only of the case but of the shattered lives he and his two buddies have been living all these years, and Marcia Gay Harden is outstanding as Dave's loving wife who struggles with what is perhaps the greatest moral dilemma faced by any character in the movie. Linney, Lawrence Fishburne and Tom Guiry offer fine supporting performances.

As director, Eastwood allows his superb cast ample time to develop their characters, never hurrying the proceedings along and always allowing the conversations to play themselves out. He recognizes the quality of the material and feels no need to gussy it up with self-conscious camera angles or fancy editing. He also uses the bleak settings of blue collar Boston as an effective backdrop to the stark, chilly tale he is telling.

Perhaps it is just an odd coincidence that three of the very best movies of 2003 - '21 Grams,' 'The House of Sand and Fog' and 'Mystic River' - all suffer from the same tendency on the part of the filmmakers to move away from reality and towards melodrama and contrivance in the final act. Of the three, '21 Grams' and 'The House of Sand and Fog' are harmed less by this than 'Mystic River' because they have a somewhat deeper thematic base and richer character development than does the Eastwood film. Still, 'Mystic River' is a mighty impressive achievement for those who made it and a rich, memorable experience for those who see it.

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