Intensified by three dynamic central performances and a strong supporting cast, Mystic River, Clint Eastwoods 24th film as director, is also one of his best. Eastwood remains behind the camera for this one, leaving Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon and Laurence Fishburne to take the male leads.
Penn, Robbins and Bacon play childhood friends who are, respectively, Jimmy, Dave and Sean. An opening sequence shows them as kids playing stick hockey in a Boston suburban street after which they spot some wet cement and decide to write their names in it. Dave gets only as far as the first two letters of his name when a car drives up and a man claiming to be a cop gets out and takes him away. An incident follows that will haunt the three friends forever. The man is a child molester and Dave is missing for four days before he escapes.
Twenty-five years later, the three friends are no longer as close as they were. Jimmy is an ex-con who has redeemed himself and now runs a grocery store. Hes a family man, married to his second wife, Annabeth (Laura Linney), with three daughters, including 19-year-old Katie (Emmy Rossum) from his first marriage.
Dave, a handyman, with the trauma of his experience still preying on his mind, is married to Celeste (Marcia Gay Harden) and Sean is a homicide cop who is estranged from his pregnant wife.
Another tragedy - the horrific and senseless murder of Katie - is the cruel event that brings the three friends back into each others lives. Sean, with his partner, Whitey (Fishburne) is assigned to the case in which a suspect is the dead girls boyfriend Brendan (Thomas Guiry). But hes not the only one. On the night of the murder, Dave returns home covered in blood, breathlessly telling Celeste a story about a mugger he fears he may have killed.
While Sean and Whitey proceed with their investigation into the case, the grief-stricken Jimmy begins to make his own plans and vows to tracks down the killer himself.
More than a thriller, Mystic River is a psychological character study in which an event from the past reaches out to affect the relationship between the three men - and their families - when they are faced with a devastating new tragedy. In the performances that Eastwood gets from his entire cast, the story of these people - from a bestselling novel by Dennis Lehane - has been turned into a riveting film.