the story takes place in the greater boston area (hence the mystic river reference), and the boston accent really distracted me. what is it about actors and their need to do the boston accent? most people who never grew up here in boston don't do it right, and it sounds retarded when they try to do it.
the aforementioned tragedy is the brutal murder of jimmy marcus' (penn) 19 year old daughter (the fact that she's 19 years old is mentioned several times throughout the movie, so you don't forget). sean devine (bacon) is one of the detectives on the case, and he and jimmy were friends as kids, but grew apart as they reached adulthood. the third friend, dave boyle (robbins), becomes the prime suspect of the murder when he comes home to his wife one night bloodied with a suspicious alibi, the exact same night jimmy's daughter is murdered. jimmy has a checkered past (spent some time in the joint) and has several shady connections that he calls up to help him track down his daughter's murder so he can exact his revenge.
so the stage is set as each character work his/her way through the story. did i fail to mention that as boys, one of them (dave) was abducted by child molesters but later escaped? how that plays into the story i won't reveal. why that's even important, maybe i'm not smart enough to figure out. sometimes i watch these movies and i don't understand the critical raves, and i think maybe i'm just not bright enough to watch certain movies. but you'd think a good movie would have an universal appeal, not just limited to intellectuals?
the wives of the friends play an interesting part as well. jimmy's wife (linney) has an almost lady macbeth element about her, while dave's wife (harden) is one of the most tragic figure in the film, not quite sure if her husband is the killer, torn between keeping a secret and telling her friends about who might have murdered their daughter. sean is married as well, but we never see his wife, she just calls him and says nothing, which has some kind of significance, but once again, i didn't really understand that part.
i didn't really understand the ending either. i don't want to give anything away, but two of the friends exchange some gestures which i don't know how to interpret. this is what happens when you go see movies by yourself! nobody to discuss the film with afterwards, and you're left slightly confused!
so mystic river, it's an interesting movie although parts of it i didn't quite understand. for fans of drama, it's probably a must-see. for fans of movies that aren't so hard to decipher and don't require very much thinking, i suggest looking elsewhere.