Mystic River


There's no retina-scorching MTV fizz here, just an old-school, slow-burn exploration of The Evil That Men Do. Torn between rage and grief, heavy-lidded eyes full of pain and regret, Sean Penn fully deserved his Oscar as the father out to avenge his daughter's death. It's a meaty, Method, DeNiro-in-his-prime performance, up there with Penn's work in Dead Man Walking and Carlito's Way. As for Tim Robbins, who also received one of the Academy's golden doorstops, he expertly captures a trauma time won't heal - - the aftermath of child abuse echoing down generations.

A film about how our past informs our present, for both good and ill, it's apt that it feels so defiantly old-fashioned.

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