Mystic River (R) ★★★★½

Review Date: July 1st, 2011

Three childhood friends who share a tragic event from the past cross paths again after 25 years when one of the men's daughter is found brutally murdered.

Based on the best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane, Mystic River is full of characters wrought with heavy emotions--and burdens. Yet, it is also a fairly simplistic murder mystery. Three 13-year old boys, Jimmy, Sean and Dave, are playing on a street in a tough Boston neighborhood when two pedophiles pretending to be cops grab Dave and take him away. In that moment, all three lives are irrevocably changed. Jimmy (Sean Penn) grew up as tough as his neighborhood, doing time for robbery but finally settling into a comfortable family life with his wife, Annabeth (Laura Linney). Sean (Kevin Bacon) went on to become a cop but his personal life is in a shambles and he is estranged from his wife. Dave (Tim Robbins) has never been able to face his demons, despite being a loving father and husband to Celeste (Marcia Gay Harden). Now, 25 years later, tragedy brings them together once again. Jimmy's 19-year-old daughter is found murdered and while Sean is assigned to the case with his partner Whitey (Laurence Fishburne), Jimmy seeks his own vigilante investigation with the local hoods--and Dave emerges as a prime suspect. As the mystery is unraveled, all are pulled closer toward an abyss that will force them to face their true selves--and will mark them as irrevocably as the past itself has tainted their lives. rated this film 4 1/2 stars.