Mystic River Reviews

Geoff Andrew
Time Out
Top Critic
June 24, 2006

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.

Peter Rainer
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic
August 7, 2004

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

Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
Top Critic
November 14, 2003

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

| Original Score: 4/5
Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
Top Critic
October 24, 2003

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 | Original Score: 2/4
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic
October 17, 2003

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 | Original Score: 3/5
Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic
October 17, 2003

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

Full Review | Original Score: A
Tom Long
Detroit News
Top Critic
October 17, 2003

There is depth in this movie, and fine acting. But even more intriguing, there are questions... questions with no clear answers.

| Original Score: B+
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
Top Critic
October 17, 2003

Smart, hard-charging, compassionate.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic
October 17, 2003

Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic
October 17, 2003

The experience of being so absorbed in a movie and the lives of the people in it, of trusting a director and a writer and actors to take me places completely unexpected, is so rare that I savored every unexpected turn and twist.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Rex Reed
New York Observer
Top Critic
October 16, 2003

A solid whodunit, with disturbing, provocative, take-home insights into human nature.

Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
Top Critic
October 16, 2003

A masterpiece of the first order.

Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
Top Critic
October 16, 2003

Deals with themes Eastwood has often explored before, but never so delicately or with as much sad wisdom: The way in which our past haunts our present, the lasting repercussions of violence and the cruel inexorability of fate.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Eric Harrison
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic
October 16, 2003

It is an impressive movie masquerading as an important one.

Full Review | Original Score: B
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic
October 16, 2003

Eastwood has handed Penn the role of a lifetime, and the actor scorches the screen with his anguish and angry vengefulness.

Full Review | Original Score: A-
Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic
October 15, 2003

Eastwood and his terrific cast leave you shaken in ways that matter.

| Original Score: A-
David Edelstein
Slate
Top Critic
October 10, 2003

For all its missteps, Mystic River gets the big things right: It turns you inside out with grief.

Ella Taylor
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic
October 9, 2003

Where Lehane's novel seethes with emotionally charged subtext, Eastwood's workmanlike direction feels static -- fatally tasteful, embalmed in gravitas -- while his sporadic efforts at dramatic heightening come off as vulgar cliché.

Desson Thomson
Washington Post
Top Critic
October 9, 2003

A deeply textured drama in which the sins (or perceived sins) of the past weigh heavily on the present.

Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
Top Critic
October 9, 2003

If Mystic River is just a bit overplayed, a tad too highly pitched, it still resonates with grief and fury and feeling.

Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic
October 9, 2003

The movie eloquently mourns the death of innocence and friendship. It also is a showcase for six stunning performances.

| Original Score: 3.5/4
Jeff Strickler
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic
October 9, 2003

The performances are exquisite.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
Top Critic
October 9, 2003

The acting throughout is exceptional, rooted in observed realism, but suggestive of more mythical agents at work through the lives of human beings.

| Original Score: 3/4
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
Top Critic
October 9, 2003

The film and its actors are at their best when acknowledging the tragedy of inarticulate men banging their heads against fate.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
Top Critic
October 8, 2003

Eastwood's most soulful, and most organic, movie.

Peter Howell
Toronto Star
Top Critic
October 8, 2003

It is a movie to closely watch and to savour; the confident direction and the flawless ensemble performances are, quite simply, worthy of Oscars.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
Top Critic
October 8, 2003

Mystic River is full of details that stay with you.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
Top Critic
October 8, 2003

An adult drama rich in emotional textures.

| Original Score: 3/4
Carla Meyer
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic
October 8, 2003

At nearly 2 1/2 hours, Mystic River proves that a mystery need not be taut to be riveting.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic
October 8, 2003

Eastwood's best direction since Unforgiven and arguably the best, most mature work of his career.

Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Paul Clinton (CNN.com)
CNN.com
Top Critic
October 8, 2003

A riveting story with complex situations and extremely well defined characters.

Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic
October 8, 2003

Crisply well-crafted and beautifully acted.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic
October 8, 2003

River leads moviegoers on a suspense-filled, sometimes painful adventure marked by great performances.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
Top Critic
October 6, 2003

A powerful tale of crime, guilt, and punishment.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic
October 6, 2003

This is an extremely well-crafted and powerful film with searing performances from the all-star cast, most notably Sean Penn and Tim Robbins.

Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic
October 3, 2003

Resonates long after the last fade-out.

Jonathan Foreman
New York Post
Top Critic
October 3, 2003

A haunting, ambitious but ultimately flawed film that treads some of the same somber moral territory director Clint Eastwood explored in Unforgiven.

| Original Score: 3/4
Jami Bernard
New York Daily News
Top Critic
October 3, 2003

A solid crime thriller.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
A.O. Scott
New York Times
Top Critic
October 2, 2003

Mystic River is the rare American movie that aspires to -- and achieves -- the full weight and darkness of tragedy.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Jan Stuart
Newsday
Top Critic
October 2, 2003

What you end up admiring about the film is its literacy, its authenticity ... and its refusal to let us down easily.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic
October 2, 2003

A classic whodunit.

Full Review | Original Score: A
J. Hoberman
Village Voice
Top Critic
September 30, 2003

Eastwood's 24th directorial feature is his most ambitious in a decade.

Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
Top Critic
September 25, 2003

A movie of startling power and intimacy.

| Original Score: 4/4
Todd McCarthy
Variety
Top Critic
May 29, 2003

Mystic River is a complex, deeply ambiguous study of lifelong ties, moral accountability and the flukes of destiny.

Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic
May 23, 2003

A crisp, well-made, visually astute film that will provoke and divide [Eastwood's] admirers.