A thriller about friendship and loyalty, guilt and vengeance, and the fateful affect the past has on the present. Sean Penn won an Oscar for his multifaceted performance as a father who lost his daughter.
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Geoff Andrew 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 Sean Penn is so frighteningly good in this movie that he outdoes even the best of his earlier work.
Rex Reed A solid whodunit, with disturbing, provocative, take-home insights into human nature.
Andrew Sarris A masterpiece of the first order.
David Edelstein For all its missteps, Mystic River gets the big things right: It turns you inside out with grief.
Ella Taylor 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 cliche.
Desson Thomson A deeply textured drama in which the sins (or perceived sins) of the past weigh heavily on the present.
Ann Hornaday If Mystic River is just a bit overplayed, a tad too highly pitched, it still resonates with grief and fury and feeling.
Stephanie Zacharek Eastwood's most soulful, and most organic, movie.
Paul Clinton (CNN.com) A riveting story with complex situations and extremely well defined characters.
Richard Roeper 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 Resonates long after the last fade-out.
J. Hoberman Eastwood's 24th directorial feature is his most ambitious in a decade.
Todd McCarthy Mystic River is a complex, deeply ambiguous study of lifelong ties, moral accountability and the flukes of destiny.
Kirk Honeycutt A crisp, well-made, visually astute film that will provoke and divide [Eastwood's] admirers.