With “Mystic River“, Clint Eastwood films a friendship that is shattered following two terrible events. A magnificent drama that opens with an unforgettable introduction, for which the author Dennis Lehane partly based himself on his experience.
Mystic River: Clint Eastwood at the top
A year after the thriller Blood claims Clint Eastwood is reuniting with screenwriter Brian Helgeland (LA Confidential, man on fire) for the adaptation of Mystic River, Dennis Lehane’s novel. Released in 2003, the film is to be ranked among the heights of the director. A gem of writing magnified by a sober staging, as well as the photography of Tom Stern and the quality of the interpretation of the phenomenal cast, the feature film is an exceptional combination of talents.
The film opens with a drama. In 1975, in a district of Boston, young Jimmy Markum, Sean Devine, and Dave Boyle are playing in their street when two men in a car stop at their level. Passing themselves off as police officers, they embark Dave in their vehicle. For four days, these kidnappers sexually abuse their victims until the boy manages to escape.
25 years later, if they still live in the same place, the three friends have moved away and taken very different paths. A reformed criminal, Jimmy (Sean Penn) runs a grocery store. Sean (Kevin Bacon) is a policeman. Finally, Dave (Tim Robbins) is a worker married to Celeste (Marcia Gay Harden), cousin of Jimmy’s companion, Annabeth (Laura Linney).
Their paths cross again when Sean and his partner Whitey (Laurence Fishburne) find the body of Katie (Emmy Rossum), Jimmy’s brutally murdered daughter. Mad with rage and blinded by sadness, his father begins to suspect Dave, still traumatized by the abuse he has suffered.
In 2004, Sean Penn and Tim Robbins both won an Oscar for their respective performances in Mystic River.
Dennis Lehane was inspired by his experience
Boston native of Dorchester, Dennis Lehane centers most of his work in his hometown. Detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro investigate there in the saga dedicated to them, consisting in particular of The last drink before the war and Gone Baby Gone. The psychiatric hospital of Shutter Island is also off the coast of Boston. Finally, with A country at dawn and They live the night the author examines the authorities and criminality of the capital of Massachusetts in the first half of the 20th century.
The writer is therefore partly inspired by his experience in his novels. This is for example the case for the introduction of Mystic River which is based on an episode of his childhood, which fortunately did not have the tragic outcome of the book and the film. Asked by January Magazine in 2001, Dennis Lehane recalls:
When I was a child, there was this completely harmless incident. I was arguing with my oldest friend and we got into a fight when I was eleven. (…) The whole neighborhood was around us. (…) It started in the school yard and ended up on top of a hill. (…) Two policemen drove by and stopped everything. (…) When they left, we started fighting again. (…) Then they came back and were upset. (…) So they threw us in their car and took us back to our parents.
My mother was completely upset. After they left, she said to me, “Didn’t you see a badge? Are you crazy?” (…) We had not thought about it and they were really policemen. 20 years later, I wrote this scene imagining the worst case scenario.