Mistake River

I went to see Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River last night, as part of my goal of seeing at least the five Oscar-nominated films before the Academy Awards are doled out.

This was one of the most disappointing movies I have seen in recent memory, and I say that as one who didn’t have high expectations going in to the film. My biggest problem with this movie is that the only themes I could discern were: people make fatal mistakes, and people are generally schizophrenic and so we shouldn’t form judgments about character.

If many people are praising the movie, I suspect it is because it has a thriller-ish edge to it, and because it passes itself off as complex and clever. But really I felt that the movie was more of an enigma than a mystery-thriller… and it was an enigma because it fails to have anything coherent or meaningful to say about the human situation.

I want to be clear that my dislike for this movie has nothing to do with the fact that it is dark and sad. By way of contrast, I really enjoyed 21 Grams, another dark film with Sean Penn. Mystic River was, for me, the Calvinist version of 21 Grams: a world depraved rather than a world fallen. I don’t get very interested in characters who are simply victims, or whose personalities and motivations are presented to me by way of postscript.

I don’t want to dignify this movie by wasting more words on it. Barbara Nicolosi has a good critique of the film on her blog.

I will watch Seabiscuit this week to round out my viewing of Oscar nominated films. But I think it is safe to say that I consider Mystic River the least deserving of the five nominated movies of 2003.

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