Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Best of the Decade: #21: Mystic River


Mystic River

To give you an idea of the impact this film has had, I'll outline a familiar conversation I've had with a lot of people. It goes like this:

"You went to grad school for writing?"
"Any famous instructors?"
"Dennis Lehane."
"Don't know him. What'd he write?"
"Mystic River."
"The Clint Eastwood movie? That was a great movie."

Or that may be a reflection on how poorly read most people are, even if they say they love to read mysteries. Anyway, Eastwood took a dark novel (not to mention fantastic) and turned it into a moody, Shakespearean tragedy (the Lady Macbeth similarities are intentional) that earned Sean Penn his first Oscar. But as good as Penn is, Tim Robbins is brilliant. Penn had the showier role, but Robbins's portrayal required a lot more skill to pull off successfully.

Another observation of American filmmaking over the past decade: Eastwood with his many critically successful films (Letters from Iwo Jima, Changeling, Million Dollar Baby, etc.) has become arguably the best film director during these ten years, equal only to Scorsese and Van Sant.

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