Kind of like the movie.
It's a good movie. Is it a Best Picture? I don't know. It reminded me a lot of In The Bedroom from two years ago; I almost want to call it the token "eye-for-an-eye revenge picture." It was engrossing. It was well cast and well acted. It has flashbacks to a grim past. It's compelling and tragic and methodical as only a Clint Eastwood picture can be. It's a mob movie. It's a cowboy movie set in the urban suburbs of Boston.
But I don't know...it's ordinary somehow.
This year, the five nominees are more different than I ever remember them being. We have a shipboard adventure, a heartwearming underdog success story, an epic fantasy, a thoughtful yet surreal travelog...and this suburban cowboy crime drama. The votes are going to be interesting. There have been some years where the Best Picture nominees have been similar; I recall 1998, when the Best Picture nominees were either Elizabethan (Shakespeare in Love and Elizabeth), or War movies (Life is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line). The variety has improved, to put it mildly.
One fun thing is to see NotFakeBoston™ for a change. There's an interior shot of a liquor store that's supposed to be "Looney's Liquors" when in fact it's Costello's Bottled Liquors on Boylston Street near Mass Ave. Up until about Christmas, there was a banner proclaiming the proud fact that this little shop appeared in this movie.
Sean Penn gives a good perfomance here...I'm not sure it's superior to the one he gave in 21 Grams (in which he was the most interesting character), but it's very solid. Tim Robbins is solid as well. And Kevin Bacon isn't as annoying as he usually is. Clint deserves a Best Director for that, if nothing else.
There is an interesting, if minimalised and almost backhanded, exploration into the dichotomy of the "good wife" and the "bad wife." The good wife stands behind her husband and never doubts that he acts in the best interests of himself and his family. The bad wife...doesn't. And bad things happen because she'd not loyal. Which is sad; had Clint focused on the distaff side a bit more, he might have had a better movie.
For all that it has going for it, however, Mystic River falls flat and is the least "unique" of the five nominees. I don't see it winning, not Best Picture...but I can see how it pushed the right buttons to get itself nominated.