Tuesday, 9pm, TCM
American crime novelist Dennis Lehane has been well-served when it comes to screen adaptations of his books. Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island and Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone were both critical successes. But it is Lehane’s compelling thriller Mystic River, a tale of abduction, murder and child abuse set in the mean streets of working-class South Boston, that is not only his best book, but also gave director Clint Eastwood the material for one of his finest films.
Jimmy (Sean Penn), Sean (Kevin Bacon) and Dave (Tim Robbins) are the childhood friends whose lives were turned upside down one day in 1975, when Dave was abducted by two men posing as policemen. A quarter of a century later, Jimmy’s 19-year-old daughter, Katie, is murdered and suspicion falls on Dave, who has never been the same since escaping the clutches of his captors as a child. Sean, now a cop, has to balance his loyalty to his friends with his determination to catch Katie’s killer, while Jimmy (left), an ex-convict who now runs a neighbourhood store, decides to take the law into this own hands. Guilt, suspicion and the ghosts of the past threaten to destroy Jimmy, Sean and Dave in a closeknit neighbourhood where rumour and the law of the streets hold sway.
The story behind the film
Dennis Lehane’s novel is imbued with the blue-collar culture of Irish South Boston. The studio executives wanted to shoot the film in Toronto to save money, but director Clint Eastwood insisted on shooting on location in Boston.
In an effort to get under the skin of his character, Kevin Bacon, who plays a detective in the movie, spent time in the Massachusetts State Police.
The opening of the film, in which the young Dave gets into the car of a couple of strangers posing as plainclothes policemen, was based on an incident when Dennis Lehane was scolded by his mother as a child for getting into a stranger’s car. Tim Fanning