Mystic River (film)

Mystic River (film)
Mystic River

Theatrical poster by Bill Gold
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Produced by Clint Eastwood
Robert Lorenz
Judie G. Hoyt
Screenplay by Brian Helgeland
Based on Mystic River by
Dennis Lehane
Starring Sean Penn
Tim Robbins
Kevin Bacon
Laurence Fishburne
Marcia Gay Harden
Laura Linney
Music by Clint Eastwood
Cinematography Tom Stern
Editing by Joel Cox
Studio Village Roadshow Pictures
Malpaso Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s) October 15, 2003 (2003-10-15)
Running time 137 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million[1][2]
Box office $156,822,020

Mystic River is a 2003 American drama film directed, co-produced and scored by Clint Eastwood, starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney and Emmy Rossum. The film was written by Brian Helgeland, based on Dennis Lehane's novel of the same name.

The film opened to widespread critical acclaim. It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor. Sean Penn won Best Actor and Tim Robbins won Best Supporting Actor, making Mystic River the first film to win both awards since Ben-Hur in 1959.



Three boys, Jimmy Markum, Sean Devine and Dave Boyle, play hockey in a Boston street in 1975. Spotting wet concrete, the boys commence writing their names into it when a car pulls up and two men, pretending to be police officers, get out, berate the boys for their actions, and tell Dave to get in the car. The men are pedophiles, and hold Dave captive and sexually abuse him for four days, until he escapes.

Twenty-five years later, the boys are now grown and, while they still live in Boston, have drifted apart. Jimmy (Penn) is an ex-con running a neighborhood store, while Dave (Robbins) is a blue-collar worker, still haunted by his abduction. The two are still neighbors and related by marriage. Jimmy's 19-year-old daughter Katie is secretly dating Brendan Harris, a boy Jimmy despises. She and Brendan are planning to run away together to Las Vegas.

Katie goes out for the night with her girlfriends and is seen by Dave at a local bar. That night, Katie is murdered, and Dave comes home with an injured hand and blood on his clothes, which his wife Celeste helps him clean up. Dave claims that he fought off a mugger and "bashed his head into the concrete", and possibly killed him. Sean (Bacon), who is now a detective with the Massachusetts State Police, investigates Katie's murder. In a subplot, Sean's pregnant wife Lauren has left him.

Over the course of the film, Sean and his partner, Sergeant Whitey Powers, track down leads while Jimmy conducts his own investigation using his neighborhood connections. Sean discovers that the gun used to kill Katie was also used in a liquor store robbery during the 1980s by "Just Ray" Harris, the father of Katie's boyfriend. Harris has been missing for some time, but Brendan claims he still sends his family $500 every month. Brendan also feigns ignorance about Ray's gun but Sean believes that it was still in the house. Sergeant Powers suspects Dave as a possible perpetrator because he was one of the last people to see Katie alive. He also has a wounded hand and even though he continues to tell his wife he got it while being mugged, he tells the police a different story – soon Jimmy becomes suspicious of it. Dave continues to behave strangely, which upsets his wife to the point she is afraid he will hurt her. While Jimmy and his associates conduct their investigation, Dave's wife eventually tells Jimmy about Dave's behavior and the bloody clothing and her suspicions.

Jimmy and his friends get Dave drunk at a local bar. When Dave leaves the bar, the men follow him out. Jimmy tells Dave that he shot "Just Ray" Harris at that same location for ratting him out and sending him to jail. Jimmy informs Dave that his wife thinks he murdered Katie and tells Dave that he will let him live if he confesses; if he does not he will kill him. Dave repeatedly tells Jimmy that he did kill someone but it was not Katie: he beat a child molester to death after finding him having sex with a child prostitute in a car. Jimmy does not believe Dave's claim and threatens him with a knife. When Dave finally admits to killing Katie thinking he can escape with his life, Jimmy kills him and disposes of his body in the adjacent Mystic River.

While Dave is being killed, Brendan (having found out about his father's gun during questioning) confronts his younger brother Ray Jr. and his brother's friend John about Katie's murder. He beats the two boys and threatens to kill them if they do not admit their guilt, but he is almost shot by John. Sean and Powers arrive just in time to stop it.

The next morning, Sean tells Jimmy that the police have Katie's murderers – who have confessed. She was killed by Brendan's brother and his friend in a violent prank gone wrong. Sean asks Jimmy if he has seen Dave, because he is wanted for questioning in another case, the murder of a known child molester. A distraught Jimmy thanks Sean for finding his daughter's killers, but says "if only you had been a little faster." Sean asks Jimmy if he's going to "send Celeste Boyle $500 a month too?". Sean reunites with his wife and his daughter Nora, after apologizing for "driving her away". Jimmy goes to his wife and confesses. She comforts him and tells him that he is a king and kings always make the right decision. At a town parade, Sean sees Jimmy, and mimes shooting him, to let Jimmy know he is watching.



Mystic River's scenes were filmed on location in Boston.[2] Eastwood claimed that the three lead actors were his first choices for the roles.[2]



Mystic River was well received by critics as well as viewers. The film has an 87% approval rating based on 191 reviews from critics at the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, and an even higher rating of 95% from its "Top Critics".[3] At the website MetaCritic, which utilizes a normalized rating system, the film earned a rating of 84/100 ("universal acclaim") based on 42 reviews.[4] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote "Clint Eastwood pours everything he knows about directing into Mystic River. His film sneaks up, messes with your head, and then floors you. You can't shake it. It's that haunting, that hypnotic."[1] The Sun wrote that the film was "a haunting masterpiece and probably [Eastwood's] best film to date".[5]

Box office

The film earned $156,822,020 worldwide with $90,135,191 in the U.S. and $66,686,829 in the international box office, which is significantly higher than the film's $30,000,000 budget.[6]


  • 76th Academy Awards:
    • Best Picture[5]
    • Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Marcia Gay Harden)[5]
    • Best Director (Clint Eastwood)[5]
    • Best Screenplay – Adapted (Brian Helgeland)[5]
  • American Cinema Editors: Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic (Joel Cox)
  • American Screenwriters Association: Discover Screenwriting Award (Brian Helgeland)
  • Argentine Film Critics Association: Best Foreign Film (Clint Eastwood)
  • Australian Film Institute: Best Foreign Film
  • Awards of the Japanese Academy: Best Foreign Film
  • 57th BAFTA Film Awards:
  • Broadcast Film Critics Association: Best Acting Ensemble, Best Supporting Actress (Mary Gay Harden), Best Director (Clint Eastwood), Best Writer (Brian Helgeland), Best Composer (Clint Eastwood)
  • Cannes Film Festival: Golden Palm (Clint Eastwood)[7]
  • Cinema Writers Circle (Spain): Best Foreign Film
  • European Film Awards: Screen International Award (Clint Eastwood)
  • 61st Golden Globe Awards:
  • IFTA Awards: Best International Film, Best International Actor (Sean Penn)
  • International Horror Guild: Best Movie
  • Motion Picture Sound Editors: Best Sound Editing in Domestic Features – Dialogue & ADR
  • Online Film Critics Society: Best Picture, Best Actor (Sean Penn), Best Supporting Actor (Tim Robbins), Best Director (Clint Eastwood), Best Screenplay – Adapted (Brian Helgeland)
  • PGA Golden Laurel Awards: Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award
  • Robert Festival (Denmark): Best American Film
  • Satellite Awards: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Drama (Marcia Gay Harden), Best Director (Clint Eastwood), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing (Joel Cox), Best Sound (Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman, Michael Semanick, Christopher Boyes and Gary Summers)
  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, Sean Penn and Tim Robbins), Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Sean Penn)
  • Writers Guild of America: Best Adapted Screenplay (Brian Helgeland)

Home media releases

The DVD was released on June 8, 2004 and 3 editions have been released:

  • Full Screen Edition
  • Widescreen Edition
  • 3-Disc Deluxe Edition

The film has also been released on Blu-ray Disc, both sold separately and as a part of the Clint Eastwood collection.



  • Eliot, Marc (2009). American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood. Harmony Books. ISBN 978-0-307-33688-0. 
  • Hughes, Howard (2009). Aim for the Heart. London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 9781845119027. 

Further reading

  • Ostermann, Eberhard. Mystic River oder die Abwesenheit des Vaters. In: E.O.: Die Filmerzählung. Acht exemplarische Analysen. Munich (Fink) 2007. pp. 29–43. ISBN 978-3-7705-4562-9.

External links

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Academy Award winner for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor Succeeded by

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mystic River (Film) — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel Mystic River …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mystic River (film) — …   Википедия

  • Mystic River (film, 2003) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Mystic River. Mystic River Données clés Titre original Mystic River Réalisation Clint Eastwood Scénario …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Mystic River (Massachusetts) — Mystic River ist der Name eines kurzen Flusses in Massachusetts, USA, der nördlich parallel zum Charles River fließt. Er hat ein Wassereinzugsgebiet von über 120 km² und endet im Bostoner Hafen. Der Fluss ist Namensgeber für den Roman Mystic… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mystic river — Auteur Dennis Lehane Genre Roman Version originale Titre original Mystic River Éditeur original William Morrow Langue originale Anglais Pays d origine …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Mystic River (disambiguation) — Mystic River is a river in eastern Massachusetts. Mystic River may also refer to: Mystic River (novel), by Dennis Lehane Mystic River (film), directed by Clint Eastwood and based on the novel Mystic River (Connecticut), a river in southeastern… …   Wikipedia

  • Mystic River — bezeichnet: einen Fluss im US Bundesstaat Connecticut, siehe Mystic River (Connecticut) einen Fluss im US Bundesstaat Massachusetts, siehe Mystic River (Massachusetts) einen Roman von Dennis Lehane, siehe Spur der Wölfe einen Film von Clint… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mystic River (Roman) — Mystic River (in Deutschland auch unter dem Titel Spur der Wölfe bekannt) ist ein Roman des US Amerikaners Dennis Lehane aus dem Jahr 2001. Er handelt von drei Jugendfreunden, deren Leben von einem Verbrechen überschattet wird und die sich als… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mystic River —    Film policier de Clint Eastwood d après le roman de Dennis Lehane, avec Sean Penn (Jimmy), Tim Robbins (Dave), Kevin Bacon (Sean), Laurence Fishburne, Laura Linney, Marcia Gay Harden, Eli Wallach, Tom Guiry.   Pays: États Unis   Date de sortie …   Dictionnaire mondial des Films

  • Mystic River (novel) — For the film based on the book, see Mystic River (film). Mystic River   …   Wikipedia

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