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Mystic River (2003)


Average Rating: 7.7/10
Reviews Counted: 194
Fresh: 169
Rotten: 25

Critics Consensus: Anchored by the exceptional acting of its strong cast, Mystic River is a somber drama that unfolds in layers and conveys the tragedy of its story with visceral power.

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 44
Fresh: 41
Rotten: 3

Critics Consensus: Anchored by the exceptional acting of its strong cast, Mystic River is a somber drama that unfolds in layers and conveys the tragedy of its story with visceral power.


Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 200,452


Movie Info

Directed by Clint Eastwood, the mysterious drama Mystic River is based on the novel by Dennis Lehane and adapted by screenwriter Brian Helgeland. Set in an Irish neighborhood in Boston, Jimmy, Sean, and Dave are three childhood friends who are reunited after a brutal murder takes place. Reformed convict Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn) and his devoted wife Annabeth (Laura Linney) find out that their teenage daughter Katie (Emmy Rossum) has been beaten and killed. Jimmy's old friend Sean Devine (Kevin … More

R (for language and violence)
Mystery & Suspense , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Brian Helgeland , Dennis Lehane
In Theaters:
Jun 8, 2004
Box Office:


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Critic Reviews for Mystic River

All Critics (196) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (169) | Rotten (25) | DVD (41)

It is in many ways Eastwood's tightest movie for some time, and certainly his darkest since Unforgiven; indeed, the ending offers as corrosive an assessment of the limits of American justice as anything in his career.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Sean Penn is so frighteningly good in this movie that he outdoes even the best of his earlier work.

Full Review… | August 7, 2004
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

Works as a straight-up detective story, and the acting is often breathtaking.

November 14, 2003
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

Too depressing to fill audiences with delight, but it does seem to validate questionable attitudes, especially an indifference to the suffering of innocent people and a willingness to shoot first and ask questions later.

Full Review… | October 24, 2003
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Solid, rarely showy performances, meticulously recreated detective work and moments of pure unadulterated grief accent this whodunit, a movie that will have those who haven't read the book fooled for much of its length.

Full Review… | October 17, 2003
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Contains so many layers that you'll want to see it more than once. It's one for the memory books.

Full Review… | October 17, 2003
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

The entire cast did a phenomenal job, resisting the urge to overact too much, which is what you get for a film like this.

Full Review… | July 21, 2012
7M Pictures

Powerful performances in graphic story. Only 16+.

Full Review… | December 26, 2010
Common Sense Media

American drama doesn't get any more meaty and muscular than this.

Full Review… | June 13, 2009

The performances are uniformly superb.

Full Review… | August 25, 2008

Good, occasionally powerful noir that's been overhyped.

Full Review… | August 5, 2007
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Mystic falters occasionally, but I respect its effort and I'm happy to see Mr. Eastwood growing as a director.

Full Review… | July 14, 2007
Big Picture Big Sound

While not quite the equal of the novel, it's more complex, emotionally-charged and better acted than the average Hollywood thriller.

Full Review… | December 30, 2006
Empire Magazine

With characters that don't belong in the film and resolutions that seem mere fantasy, Mystic River never surpasses adequacy.

Full Review… | August 8, 2006
Cinema Sight

A sprawling story that benefits from Eastwood's stripped-down approach. There are no jive talking Tarantino exchanges here, and no crowd-pleasing pyrotechnics.

Full Review… | December 6, 2005
Film Threat

This is one of the finer dramas to come down the pike in some time.

Full Review… | June 21, 2005

The film births wonderful performances from all three lead actors, as well as Marcia Gay Harden, who's palpable in preternatural ways, Thomas Guiry as the boy in love with Jimmy's daughter, and virtually everyone else with a strip of film time.

Full Review… | May 13, 2005
Apollo Guide

It's a stately, handsome-looking studio drama that, for me, never really became emotionally or intellectually involving.

Full Review… | March 5, 2005
NYC Film Critic

... frustratingly humorless, harsh, and hollow, lacking the cohesiveness, color and convincing characterization of Eastwood's masterpiece Unforgiven.

January 15, 2005
Looking Closer

Penn and Robbins, especially, are absolutely riveting in this haunting tale of lives lost.

Full Review… | October 16, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

This is an involving movie that held my interest for all but the last five of its 137-minute running time, despite an ending that seems to tolerate murder and vigilante justice.

Full Review… | October 7, 2004

Methodical, riveting and emotionally charged.

Full Review… | August 13, 2004

A fine movie but not the masterpiece you've heard.

June 24, 2004

Eastwood's best since Unforgiven.

Full Review… | June 22, 2004

Audience Reviews for Mystic River



Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer


Three childhood friends who share the memory of a traumatic event are brought together once more when one of their children is murdered. Clint Eastwood once again proves he is one of the best directors working in Hollywood with this extremely well acted and written crime drama. The characters on display are far more sophisticated than those found in your average mainstream thriller, and the top notch cast all get to demonstrate their thespian chops with plenty of meaty dialogue as Clint cranks up the suspense with consummate skill. I personally have always found Penn a little unconvincing and his performance here is a little over-ripe as well, but he is a suitably intense protagonist. Kevin Bacon and Laurence Fishburne are totally believable as the detectives on the case, very much in the tradition of The Wire and Oscar winner Tim Robbins is the stand out as the traumatized abductee who is beginning to fear for his sanity. My one criticism would be that I thought that the epilogue killed the mood somewhat, but as a whole it is head and shoulders above the usual cop thriller fare.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

A masterpiece. A pure powerhouse entertainment. Sean Penn is magnificent, giving a groundbreaking and emotionally shattering performance. Tim Robbins is brilliant, a haunting and brooding performance. Kevin Bacon is terrific, a compelling and fantastic performance. Laurence Fishburne is excellent. Marcia Gay Harden is a revelation. The acting is so beyond superb, the actors go places they haven't been before and nail it dead on. A powerful cast. It's sizzling, heart-pounding and utterly shocking. The best picture of 2003. Clint Eastwood's best film as a director. An instant classic. A powerful, deeply effective, chilling and brooding thriller. A stylish, masterful, intriguing and searing mystery. Unsettling and unforgettable. It sticks in your mind and does not let go. It will keep you on the edge of your seat then take your breath away and knock you out. A true shot of adrenaline to the heart. Such a film should not be missed for it's power, suspense, tragedy and emotion.

Al S

Super Reviewer


Directed by Eastwood and boasting an all star cast of some of Hollywood's most talented this is a fairly gritty and believable tale with some pretty decent performances all around. A murder mystery, vigilante theme with a built up back story when mixed together make for intense viewing.

A film that will no doubt make a big impact!

Lady D'arbanville

Super Reviewer

Mystic River Quotes

Sean Devine:
The reality - we're still 11 year old boys, locked in a cellar, imaging what our lives would've been if we'd escaped.
– Submitted by Bryan P (19 months ago)
Dave Boyle:
Are things looking any better on that Sprite....Sean?
– Submitted by Jeremy F (2 years ago)
Jimmy Markum:
I remember, I was more afraid of my little daughter than I ever was of being in prison.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
Jimmy Markum:
We bury our sins here, Dave. We wash them clean.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)

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