Mystic River

User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 417 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 93 out of 417
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  1. MaxwellS.
    May 9, 2004
    4
    I was looking forward to this movie more than anything in late 2003 except for LOTR:ROTK. What happened?! Seriously! This movie had everything going for it. The acting was spectacular, it was based on a great book, and Clint Eastwood at the helm. Sadly, it was boring, predictable, and disappointing.
  2. RodP.
    Nov 16, 2003
    6
    Well I'd psyched myself up for a great flick. Genuinely wanted Mystic River to be something very special - it was not. I find the "the much loved director, local film" thing fascinating. If Mystic is an almost cert for best film oscar nomination then this year aint a strong one. Imagine if Lord of the Rings had been made by James Cameron - he would have been gonged with best film 3 Well I'd psyched myself up for a great flick. Genuinely wanted Mystic River to be something very special - it was not. I find the "the much loved director, local film" thing fascinating. If Mystic is an almost cert for best film oscar nomination then this year aint a strong one. Imagine if Lord of the Rings had been made by James Cameron - he would have been gonged with best film 3 years running simply based on the colour of his passport. Expand
  3. Nov 29, 2013
    4
    you can sum up Mystic River by two things only, weird and far away from reality.
    i mean it's like watching a movie by Paul Thomas Anderson.
    because everything that the characters do in this movie is the exact opposite from what people do in these types of situations. my point is you can't relate to these characters actions at all. a man just told his wife that he killed the wrong guy,
    you can sum up Mystic River by two things only, weird and far away from reality.
    i mean it's like watching a movie by Paul Thomas Anderson.
    because everything that the characters do in this movie is the exact opposite from what people do in these types of situations.
    my point is you can't relate to these characters actions at all. a man just told his wife that he killed the wrong guy, and the wife tell him, "that what kings do", WHAT.
    and the innocent man who got killed confessed about a crime he didn't commit for no obvious reason, and the people who actually did the murder have no motive at all.
    and it's keep getting weirder and weirder to the point that you keep scratching your head after the movie ends.
    i mean seriously Clint Eastwood.
    and i can't understand why Tim Robbins nabbed an Oscar for best actor, all what he ever did was few face expressions and 4 or 5 lines.
    and Clint Eastwood stretched some scenes way too much so you can relate to the performances but it was iffy and cold for all of them.
    Expand
  4. AlexR
    Mar 20, 2006
    4
    wow, I can find some seemingly good aspects about this film if I try, but come on!.. a 10? Award nominations? I just can
  5. WAKOJAKO
    Jan 8, 2004
    5
    This is what the critics call a masterpiece???? Have they all gone MAD? It's an OK murder mystery, much of which a discerning mind can foretell from miles away, but it is so long and overacted, and in some ways undeveloped, that it's hard to imagine why anyone would even think of this as a good movie. Two exceptions to the acting: Marcia Gay Harden and Laura Linney, of whom I This is what the critics call a masterpiece???? Have they all gone MAD? It's an OK murder mystery, much of which a discerning mind can foretell from miles away, but it is so long and overacted, and in some ways undeveloped, that it's hard to imagine why anyone would even think of this as a good movie. Two exceptions to the acting: Marcia Gay Harden and Laura Linney, of whom I wish there had been more. Sean Penn is way too over the top, Kevin Bacon is flat and unaffecting, and Tim Robbins is just plain annoying. Someone mentioned it may require a second viewing to "get" this "gem" of a picture, but I never see boring movies twice. Expand
  6. TylerC.
    Jun 26, 2004
    5
    This movie had great acting but I did not like the ending at all. It is a must see "who dun it?"
  7. ArnoldH.
    Oct 20, 2003
    5
    The final fifteen minutes of this movie are so utterly preposterous that whatever interest it held prior to that had been completely destroyed. Overall, a major disappointment from some very talented people.
  8. BuckF.
    Aug 5, 2005
    6
    Predictable, stilted, and way over-acted. Not to mention that not a single "great actor" in the film managed an even halfway believable Boston accent (though all tried- Fishburne, Penn, Bacon, Robbins...) Their buffoonish attempts to mimic the Beantown dialect were distracting and laughable- in fact they ruined what could have otherwise been a pretty decent 2-hour episode of "Law and Order."
  9. BillyC.
    Dec 6, 2003
    6
    I thought the twist was pretty good although the scene with the brothers in the kitchen wasnt clear.Tim was pretty believable, sean was given too much cool that he could handle. Fishburn did an honorable job with what they had written for him, he clearly has skills. The speech by penns wife in the end was weird to the point of going, huh?The whole deal with bacons mystery lady on the I thought the twist was pretty good although the scene with the brothers in the kitchen wasnt clear.Tim was pretty believable, sean was given too much cool that he could handle. Fishburn did an honorable job with what they had written for him, he clearly has skills. The speech by penns wife in the end was weird to the point of going, huh?The whole deal with bacons mystery lady on the other end was not slick at all. It does have a lot to think about and our predjudices. Expand
  10. KEV
    Oct 29, 2003
    6
    Overrated movie. Not bad in the acting department with the all-star cast. However, if the ozone layer had holes as large as this plot did, we'd all have died years ago.
  11. Droog
    Feb 1, 2004
    5
    Mystic River is not a terrible movie, but it's not a very good one either. Essentially, its parts are greater than the whole. I think the acting is superb. Sean Penn gives a performance of a lifetime here; his portrayal of a grieving father will not be replicated in Hollywood anytime soon. Tim Robbins does a fine job of depicting a man battling his personal demons. Kevin Bacon and Mystic River is not a terrible movie, but it's not a very good one either. Essentially, its parts are greater than the whole. I think the acting is superb. Sean Penn gives a performance of a lifetime here; his portrayal of a grieving father will not be replicated in Hollywood anytime soon. Tim Robbins does a fine job of depicting a man battling his personal demons. Kevin Bacon and the rest do well in supporting roles. But good acting can't save this film. There is a threadbare premise, two to three Deus Ex Machinas used to tie up the pedantic plot, minor or unseen characters providing the story spurs, and a jagged ending that neither satisfies nor questions itself. What are we to make of this? Does this movie even make us think? I suppose there was some message of "interrupted history" brought to completion in there somewhere, but mostly I just felt empty after the credits began to roll. I felt empty because the film itself is empty; it's devoid of ideas, meaning, and purpose. And that's a shame because Sean Penn is hence forced to single-handedly pull this movie out of mediocrity. Expand
  12. DeedeeS.
    Feb 1, 2004
    5
    I thought this movie was mediocre at best. The screenplay is a bad cut-and-paste job from an excellent novel. And to TINA below who gives this movie a 10 even though she "didn't like this movie" because it is the probably the movie with the best chance of beating The Return of the King and it's "obsessive fans" "who will do anything," please re-read your post and take your I thought this movie was mediocre at best. The screenplay is a bad cut-and-paste job from an excellent novel. And to TINA below who gives this movie a 10 even though she "didn't like this movie" because it is the probably the movie with the best chance of beating The Return of the King and it's "obsessive fans" "who will do anything," please re-read your post and take your pathetic idiocy elsewhere. Your desperation is embarrassing. Expand
  13. Chucho
    Mar 23, 2005
    5
    Eh. Expecting something more interesting. Tried to make twists at the end, but just came out looking lame. What were all the raves about. I think critics just trying to get Eastwood to give them an interview or something. Almost seemed like they wanted to go in the direction of that movie whose name I can't remember right now. Deniro is a Priest. That British chic is in it. Sleepers Eh. Expecting something more interesting. Tried to make twists at the end, but just came out looking lame. What were all the raves about. I think critics just trying to get Eastwood to give them an interview or something. Almost seemed like they wanted to go in the direction of that movie whose name I can't remember right now. Deniro is a Priest. That British chic is in it. Sleepers or something. Anyways...that movie was great...this not. Expand
  14. LucyS.
    Feb 3, 2004
    5
    There are some good performances and some that seemed to be entries in the "bitter beer face" overacting competition. While the book is great, the adaptation is rather unimaginative: I agree with the post below that it's no more than a cut-and-paste script. On the whole, it's ok, but very overrated.
  15. FrancineG.
    Mar 27, 2004
    4
    The film was badly disjointed and the acting chews more scenery than anything else I have seen in a few years. Given its pedigree in the directing, writing, and acting departments, it was bound to garner some critical attention, pretty much all of it undeserved. It pretends to be some kind of profound examination of the human condition. It's actually a depressing melodrama and The film was badly disjointed and the acting chews more scenery than anything else I have seen in a few years. Given its pedigree in the directing, writing, and acting departments, it was bound to garner some critical attention, pretty much all of it undeserved. It pretends to be some kind of profound examination of the human condition. It's actually a depressing melodrama and unsuspenseful suspense flick. Expand
  16. BrockR.
    May 21, 2004
    5
    Not all its cracked up to be.
  17. GeoffreyH.
    Oct 13, 2003
    5
    Any mystery/thriller fan will know 'who-dun-it' about halfway through. It has the predictable twist, and realies on too many coincidences. It isn't great like Spanish Prisoner, but it is better than many mystery thrillers.
  18. Jack
    Oct 13, 2003
    4
    Like Elliott below, I too was very disappointed with the movie. It was calculated and the actors seemed as though they were trying to outdo each other. It was highly disturbing and consistently gloomy - I can handle distubing fare, but Mystic River is just flat-out unpleasant. I wanted it to end long before it did.
  19. Jack
    Oct 13, 2003
    4
    Like Elliott below, I too was very disappointed with the movie. It was calculated and the actors seemed as though they were trying to outdo each other. It was highly disturbing and consistently gloomy - I can handle distubing fare, but Mystic River is just flat-out unpleasant. I wanted it to end long before it did.
  20. ChrisP.
    Oct 16, 2003
    6
    Maybe I don't "get it", but Mystic River seemed like it could just as easily have been a made-for-TV movie. Good performances but the plot has so many "why the hell would you DO that" moments that the whole thing was pretty unsatisfying.
  21. UnbearableLightness
    Dec 16, 2003
    6
    I have very mixed emotions about this film. Robbins was great, Penn was amazing. The plot was interesting. Unfortunately I found the ending to be absurd and the "twist" predictable. I was also very confused by the sub-plot of Bacon and his wife. Completely pointless.
  22. JesselA.
    Jan 31, 2004
    5
    Certainly not the best film out there and vastly overrated critically, this is the kid of films newspaper and magazine reviewers love to salivate over as it shows what's wrong with the justic system by (sadly) portraying the cops as "Angela Lansbury" wannabees. Great script and excellent direction doesn't dismiss the "color by numbers" feel that permeates that awkwardly paced Certainly not the best film out there and vastly overrated critically, this is the kid of films newspaper and magazine reviewers love to salivate over as it shows what's wrong with the justic system by (sadly) portraying the cops as "Angela Lansbury" wannabees. Great script and excellent direction doesn't dismiss the "color by numbers" feel that permeates that awkwardly paced non-thriller. Expand
  23. GregK.
    Feb 16, 2004
    5
    I don't see any zero votes below me, so would all the paranoid people please get your eyes checked? I do see people voting 10 for this movie even though they didn't think it was all that great out of spite for another film. That said, I thought this was movie was overhyped and seriously overrated. The acting is alright, with a few exceptions. The telling of the story lacks any I don't see any zero votes below me, so would all the paranoid people please get your eyes checked? I do see people voting 10 for this movie even though they didn't think it was all that great out of spite for another film. That said, I thought this was movie was overhyped and seriously overrated. The acting is alright, with a few exceptions. The telling of the story lacks any brilliance. It puffs itself on Social Issues but fails to deliver anything noteworthy. Not a complete disaster, but there are plenty better. Expand
  24. DavidH.
    Apr 30, 2004
    4
    I saw this movie before it received any recognition, so while I was expecting something interesting, I wasn't expecting it to win awards. However, even then, I was disappointed because the movie is so obvious in its attempt to create drama that all of the emotion is just sucked out of it. I think Clint Eastwood has done some interesting work in the past, but here he is trying to I saw this movie before it received any recognition, so while I was expecting something interesting, I wasn't expecting it to win awards. However, even then, I was disappointed because the movie is so obvious in its attempt to create drama that all of the emotion is just sucked out of it. I think Clint Eastwood has done some interesting work in the past, but here he is trying to hard. And, so are the actors. They want to be good so much that ... it just isn't. I'm perplexed by the critical acclaim, which shows the power of hollywood. Maybe if we're told enough that it's great, perhaps we will believe it too! Expand
  25. T.M.
    Jan 31, 2005
    4
    One of the most overrated films of 2003 (along with "LOTR:ROTK" and "Lost in Translation"). A great cast is wasted on a bunch of thoroughly unlikable characters, and on a self-indulgent, ponderous, wretchedly overblown screenplay. I thought it would never end, and when it did, I was troubled by the ideas the ending promoted.
  26. J.RyanG.
    May 26, 2005
    6
    Clearly overrated, this film has a lot to sink your teeth into, but it fails to avoid the problems you run into when a bunch of big stars come together to make a great movie. I can imagine Penn, Robbins, and company doing a group reading of the script, each commenting on how monumental it will be, each nervously plotting how they'll make it a great movie. The thing is, the material Clearly overrated, this film has a lot to sink your teeth into, but it fails to avoid the problems you run into when a bunch of big stars come together to make a great movie. I can imagine Penn, Robbins, and company doing a group reading of the script, each commenting on how monumental it will be, each nervously plotting how they'll make it a great movie. The thing is, the material is compelling enough to just let the movie happen, and then surely it would be superb. Sean Penn especially tries too hard, so hard that I was sure he was pushing for the Oscar--and he's not supposed to be that kind of person. Marcia Gay Harden pushes too hard too. Tim Robbins pushes, as he always does, but I got a lot more out of his performance than anyone else's. Laura Linney may be the calmest party here, but she is underused. As usual, Kevin Bacon is the most undervalued asset. The flashback scenes are basically useless, using stock child actors who may have looked like their adult counterparts but did not share their essence. And finally, the film has too much of a good thing, too much of everything. Eastwood clearly was trying to make the great movie of his career, but instead, he made one that was only marginally better than "The Rookie." He'd have to wait a year before finally making that movie. Expand
  27. BobA.
    Jan 15, 2006
    4
    A noble effort by Eastwood, but ultimately a movie that leaves the audience unsure if they should really care. The editing is disjointing, the solution to the murder mystery is unsatisfying, the twist is shallow and the acting is the equivalent of the lunatics taking over the asylum.
  28. RobH.
    Nov 26, 2003
    5
    Interesting premise - poor execution. Given it does have some nice cinematography and acting from the main characters, but numerous aspects of the plot seem either irrelevant or poorly executed. The ending is about as subtle as wacking you over the head with the screenplay. The only thing that isnt obvious is when the damn thing will end. So many scenes could have been cut and made the Interesting premise - poor execution. Given it does have some nice cinematography and acting from the main characters, but numerous aspects of the plot seem either irrelevant or poorly executed. The ending is about as subtle as wacking you over the head with the screenplay. The only thing that isnt obvious is when the damn thing will end. So many scenes could have been cut and made the thing shorter AND comprehensible. Expand
  29. BrianG.
    Oct 18, 2003
    6
    Why does every movie that takes place in Boston always seem to have a really dark look? As far as the movie, Tim Robbins and Marcia Gay Harden are amazing and about the only reason I rate the movie this high. This is far from Sean Penn's best performance. Kevin Bacon is solid but not extraordinary. I think the movie's slooww pace is to allow us through it's characters to Why does every movie that takes place in Boston always seem to have a really dark look? As far as the movie, Tim Robbins and Marcia Gay Harden are amazing and about the only reason I rate the movie this high. This is far from Sean Penn's best performance. Kevin Bacon is solid but not extraordinary. I think the movie's slooww pace is to allow us through it's characters to smolder with pain and anguish. Instead, it almost put me to sleep. I also have issues with speech given by Laura Linney late in the movie to her husband. There is nothing previous in the movie that leads one to believe her. That being said, I think this movie proves Tim Robbins' ability as an actor, He moved me and I believed his fears and confusion. Harden establishes her brilliance as one of the best character actresses on film. Expand
  30. DanO.
    Oct 21, 2003
    6
    I have to agree with Brian G. The final speech by Laura Linney late in the movie ruined this movie for me. In general I liked the movie's complexity, but I did think they were trying too hard with the dialogue. That speech put me over the top. These people are all supposed to be working class Bostonians, not 1st year philosophy majors. There are some twists here, but I did see the I have to agree with Brian G. The final speech by Laura Linney late in the movie ruined this movie for me. In general I liked the movie's complexity, but I did think they were trying too hard with the dialogue. That speech put me over the top. These people are all supposed to be working class Bostonians, not 1st year philosophy majors. There are some twists here, but I did see the end coming early on. Eastwood should watch a film like "The Usual Suspects" if he wants to do this type of a movie. That is not to say this is a bad movie, but it does come across as trying to force a film noir atmosphere rather than letting it honestly happen. Expand
  31. JJ
    Nov 18, 2004
    4
    Good acting by Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. Everything else sucks. The storyline leaves too many loose ends. K. Bacon seemed too weak and what contribution did the subplot of the wife calling him on the cell phone add to the movie. This movie certainly doesn't deserve all the kudos it gets.
  32. MariahJ.
    Feb 13, 2004
    4
    Tim Robbins turns in a good performance and Sean Penn falls overboard his hamming boat. The book was far better than this patchy, lifeless, self-important adaptation.
  33. Jon
    Feb 15, 2004
    4
    A depressing, disappointing mystery flick. It tries to be important by exploiting social issues such as child abuse, but the overacting made me cringe, and the inflated script (which was lifted striaght out of the book, and badly botched during the attempt) is simply overbearing.
  34. AMovieCritic
    Oct 26, 2009
    6
    I'm a bit surprised to see the praise this movie's gotten, to be honest. I remember being furious that Sean Penn beat out Bill Murray for the Oscar that year but after finally seeing the movie I can admit that he did a fantastic job certainly worthy of an Academy Award. But the movie itself I can't understand the praise for. There's plenty of gritty and realistic I'm a bit surprised to see the praise this movie's gotten, to be honest. I remember being furious that Sean Penn beat out Bill Murray for the Oscar that year but after finally seeing the movie I can admit that he did a fantastic job certainly worthy of an Academy Award. But the movie itself I can't understand the praise for. There's plenty of gritty and realistic dialogue here and all of it very well-acted but. Expand
  35. Dec 23, 2013
    5
    Mystic river has plenty of good acting but nothing interesting to say. The movies pace is too slow and in the end I felt empty because the film itself is empty; it's devoid of ideas, meaning, and purpose.
Metascore
84

Universal acclaim - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 42
  2. Negative: 1 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    75
    This is at bottom a pulp thriller that strains -- sometimes pretentiously, at other times with gutter magnificence -- to reach the level of basic human truths.
  2. 100
    To see strong acting like this is exhilarating. In a time of flashy directors who slice and dice their films in a dizzy editing rhythm, it is important to remember that films can look and listen and attentively sympathize with their characters. Directors grow great by subtracting, not adding, and Eastwood does nothing for show, everything for effect.
  3. Mystic River is classic Eastwood, classic noir. If there is still some doubt about whether this one-time macho star is actually a world-class moviemaker, Mystic River should end the argument for good. One of the best American movies of the year, crisply well-crafted and beautifully acted.