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Mystic River – The beauty of a film whose meaning is all in the first ten minutes

Mystic River - The beauty of a film whose meaning is all in the first ten minutes

ATTENTION: This article may contain SPOILER are Mystic River.

How different can the lives of three boys who grow up together and who at a certain point fate chooses to separate be? What is the precise point at which their paths diverge and each embarks on a path that will lead him to become an adult? In Mystic River it is possible to identify the exact moment in which thechildhood of the three main characters comes destroyed. The moment their lives take a completely different turn. The day and place in which everyone takes a different path from that of the others. Sean, Jimmy and Dave, played respectively by Kevin Bacon, Sean Penn e Tim Robbins in their adult versions, they are the protagonists of this story in which death is everyone’s faithful companion, in perfectly complementary ways.

We are in 2003 when Mystic River is presented to the 56th Cannes Film Festival without getting any recognition. Only a couple of smaller awards outside of the competition. The dark drama directed by Clint Eastwood and based on the novel Death does not forget by Dennis Lehane acts slowly and silently. It makes no noise, just like the evil that infests every scene of the film and which slowly creeps into the folds of the human soul. But the following year began to testify to the greatness of this film, as well as Clint Eastwood’s obsessive attention to detail and shots. In 2004, in fact, Mystic River conquers the public and critics. It wins two Oscar Awards e due Golden Globe (both like Best leading actor to Sean Penn and how Best Supporting Actor a Tim Robbins).

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Mystic River (640×361)

But the true beauty of Mystic River lies in the fact that Clint Eastwood hid its true meaning in the first ten minutes. For this reason, now, we will retrace them together.

The film opens with a shot of a river and the city that surrounds it on both sides. And the Mystic Rivera river that somehow acts as hero along with the three main characters. A place that hides a secret and which, at the end of the film, will have to hide another from everyone’s eyes. Two men talk and three young boys come out of their homes and go to play inline hockey on the street. And the 1975 and that is one of the few possible pastimes for children. Suddenly, the ball they are trying to send into the goal ends up in a manhole. It’s not the first time it’s happened, but it’s the first we as viewers have seen and it holds a deeper meaning. It’s a bad omen, the sign of something that is about to change in the lives of the three friends. In fact, having lost their game, Jimmy is attracted to a fresh concrete sidewalk and begins to proudly carve his name on it with a twig. Sean does the same immediately afterwards, being greeted by Jimmy with a “View? It will remain there forever.” But when it’s Dave’s turn, the most hesitant of the group, a car arrives in the avenue and the boy is forced to leave the writing halfway. He stops at “And…“, the exact half of his name.

A man who might appear to be a policeman scolds them for that act of vandalism. He wishes to punish them in some way. He investigates them. He asks where they live. And when he discovers that Dave lives further away than the others, he forces him to get into his car, where another man is waiting for him, wearing a ring engraved with a cross (Eastwood is very keen to point out this detail). So, the car with a terrified Dave on board drives away and Sean and Jimmy, confused by what happened, turn to the two men who were initially talking to each other. The guy who took their friend away wasn’t a cop. He’ll abuse Dave and beat him upshadow of himselfuntil the latter manages to escape and return home, aware that he is no longer the same person.

Mystic River (640×343)

In fact, before a 25-year time jump, the last thing the audience will see is Dave’s shadow looking out of the window of his house. Immediately afterwards, his mother closes the shutters.

Here, then, is the immense skill of Clint Eastwood. In the attitude of the children who play we can already see a small glimpse of their destiny. In the body language, in Jimmy’s jokes. During the interview with what he believes to be a policeman, Jimmy is the only one of the three children who continues to hold the hockey stick in his hand as a weapon, and here we can already glimpse the criminal he will become 25 years later. A man willing to harm anyone to avenge the death of his eldest daughter Katie (played by Emmy RossumFiona Gallagher’s beloved Shameless), with the total support of his partner Annabeth (played by Laura Linneyaka Wendy Byrde of Ozark). A man who consciously chose to play with death, to impart it as he pleased.

In Sean’s responses to Jimmy’s provocations, however, we can read the respect he has for the rules, his spirit of resourcefulness, the courage of a young man who 25 years later will choose to become a police officer. The voice of justice for those who do not have a voice. A man who embodies authority and who consciously deals with death every day, trying to keep it as far away from others as possible.

While for Dave the question is different. As with his playmates, his fate had already been written in those first ten minutes of the film. The ball ended up in the gutter. A name left unfinished. A distant shadow behind a window that is closed from the inside. All this is the symbol of one broken life from irreparable trauma. And not only for the childhood that no one will ever be able to give him back, but also for the death that will follow him step by step, lurking starting from that day in 1975. And when it reaches him unexpectedly, handing it over as a secret to be hidden forever at Mystic River, every detail of the film will be clear to us.

Mystic River (640×338)

Only at that point will we understand that the “View? It will remain there forever” by Jimmy was nothing other than theironic prophecy of a death that could have been avoided if there had been trust in others, and if the delirious desire for revenge had not taken over man.

So, Mystic River it is the story of a bad that he never sleeps, which has been brooding in silence for 25 years, waiting for the right moment to reach out its bony hands and claim everything it deserves. Of an evil that nests in men and settles, growing alongside their traumas and suffering. A disturbing but truthful portrait of man in all his limitations and in all his disgusting sins.

Clint Eastwood’s ability was to condense the meaning of the entire film into 10 minutes, while at the same time announcing, through an immense quantity of details, the pastil giftand the future of its main characters, and therefore giving the viewer a tasty preview of the ending. An anticipation that can only be grasped if you learn to observe carefully.