Mystic River (2003)

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Released 21-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer
Audio Commentary-Tim Robbins And Kevin Bacon (Actors)
Featurette-Making Of-Mystic River: Beneath The Surface
Featurette-Making Of-Mystic River: From Page To Screen
Featurette-The Charlie Rose Show Interviews
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 132:12
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (70:06)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Clint Eastwood

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Sean Penn
Tim Robbins
Kevin Bacon
Laurence Fishburne
Marcia Gay Harden
Laura Linney
Kevin Chapman
Tom Guiry
Emmy Rossum
Spencer Treat Clark
Matty Blake
Andrew Blesser
Douglass Bowen Flynn
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music Clint Eastwood

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Mystic River opens in a dreary lower middle-class suburb of Boston in the 1970s, where 3 young friends, Jimmy, Sean and Dave are killing time just being boys, playing street hockey and getting up to minor mischief. One of them, Dave, is then kidnapped in front of his friends, by a pair of child molesters masquerading as plainclothes police. We then learn that he escaped from their clutches after four days of sexual abuse at their hands, but was obviously deeply scarred mentally. The film then flashes forward to the same area, but in the present day.

    The three guys, though they have drifted apart, are still living in the same neighbourhood. The daughter of one of the three, Jimmy Markum, played by Sean Penn (I am Sam, Thin Red Line, Dead Man Walking), has been murdered recently. One of the other three, Sean, played by Kevin Bacon (Footloose, Flatliners, Hollow Man) is the investigating police officer. The remaining member of the trio, Dave, played by Tim Robbins (Shawshank Redemption, Arlington Rd) is the prime suspect in the case.

    Mystic River is a good, old-fashioned murder mystery in which the tension and plot thickens effectively over the duration of the film. There are plenty of plot twists and red herrings to keep the viewer guessing till the last few minutes. The film is ably directed by the great Clint Eastwood, at the helm of his 24th film. In this film, like in just about all his films, he doesn't try anything flashy or groundbreaking at the helm but is sensitive and competent and builds and maintains a good pace and tension. Despite his long career in action based films, Eastwood seems particularly at ease directing (and acting) in films with a strong focus on characters rather than simply action.

    This is primarily a dialogue driven story, with powerful acting from the three leads, supported ably by some great actors including Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden and Laura Linney. Indeed, the performances of Penn and Robbins garnered them the Oscars for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively. This was the first time since Ben-Hur in 1959 in which the two awards have been won in the same film.

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Transfer Quality


    The video transfer is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio which matches its original theatrical screen ratio. The transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture is sharp and clear throughout, as one would expect from such a recent theatrical release.

    Shadow detail appears to be ever-so-slightly lacking in some scenes, though I sense this was a deliberate choice of the director or cinematographer during the original filming, rather than any fault in the transfer.

    There is no visible grain or low level noise.

    The colour is neutral throughout, with a slight greyish-blue tinge at times, which helps convey the drab cold environment of Boston quite nicely.

    There are no visible MPEG artefacts nor any film to video artefacts.

    The subtitles, in English and English for the Hearing Impaired, are accurate and well synchronised with the lines as they are spoken.

    This is a dual layer disk and the layer change occurs at 70:06. It is well placed at the end of a scene and results in just a 0.5 second pause on my player. Chances are on newer machines the layer change might go unnoticed.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio for the film itself is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1. It is a good soundtrack but mastered a little too low, requiring the amplifier or TV to be turned up well beyond the usual level in order to clearly hear the dialogue.

    The dialogue itself is clear at all times (once the playback volume is increased sufficiently). There are no issues with lip sync.

    The music, mostly by Clint Eastwood, is atmospheric, with the lovely and simple main theme recurring frequently throughout the film. Much like his direction, his music is almost elegant in its simplicity and lends itself nicely to building the emotion or tension during the film.

    Being a dialogue based film, most of the audio 'action' occurs in the front three speakers, especially in the centre one. However, the rear surround do support some ambient noises as well as the music. Furthermore, there are a few scenes in which they carry discrete effects such as: the helicopter rotor blades at 18:30, and the helicopter fly over from right rear to front centre at 25:35.

    The subwoofer is called upon occasionally to support the few sound effects, such as the thunder at 71:10.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Menu Audio

    The main menu has the theme from the film playing with continually changing still images of the film's characters.

Dolby Digital Trailer

    Rain. Short and sweet.

Commentary Track

    Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon have somewhat dull voices, but do provide valuable insight into the making of this film, as well as filmmaking in general. They do seem to warm up to the task after a while, making the commentary track quite enjoyable. Their commentary is reasonably scene-specific and appears to be unscripted. There's of course a little bit of sycophancy towards Clint Eastwood, but that's quite understandable in this case!

    There are a number of gaps in the commentary, some quite lengthy. I can't help feeling this commentary track would have been so much better had Clint Eastwood joined the team. It also seems a little odd that Sean Penn wasn't included, which would have rounded off the main three actors nicely.

    Like the main audio track, this commentary track is also recorded at a lower than normal level.


    There is a second disc included in this set. The extras on this disc are:

Featurette: Mystic River - Beneath the Surface (runtime 21:56)

    This featurette is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced. Subtitles in English are available. Clips from the film are presented at 2.35:1.

    Basically this is a pastiche of interview clips with Eastwood, Penn, Robbins and Kevin Bacon, as well as Dennis Lehane, the author of the novel. Other cast and crew are also interviewed. Whilst these clips are clearly taken from interviews done for various shows they do provide interesting perspectives on the background to the story and the filming of Mystic River.

Featurette: Mystic River - From Page to Screen (11:32)

    This featurette is presented in 1.78:1 letterboxed with English subtitles available.

    More clips from interviews with the principal cast and crew, this time focusing more on the original story, as well as the screen script and its relationship to the original story. There is a little repetition of information from the other featurette and from the Charlie Rose interviews. There are also a few nice on-set background photographs interspersed throughout this short featurette.

Featurette: The Charlie Rose Interviews

    There are separate in-depth interviews with Clint Eastwood, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon, conducted by Charlie Rose, whom I've never heard of, but is obviously based in New York. The menu option allows the user to play all the interviews or select each one individually.

    The interviews are all presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen, with a soundtrack that appears to be in mono. English subtitles are available. Fortunately there seems to be no noise from the audience, so either this is not filmed live (which I'd find hard to believe), or the audience is remarkably silent and are not provided 'cues' to laugh or applaud (which I find even harder to believe!)

    Clint Eastwood (41:51)

    Quite a serious discussion about Eastwood's long career as an actor and director, as well as the background to Mystic River itself. It's so easy to listen to and watch the great man that time just flies by when watching this particular interview. There are numerous clips from Mystic River, as well as a few from Eastwood's earlier films.

    Tim Robbins (50:26)

    This is a good in-depth discourse on the role that he plays in the film, as well as his own movie career. The interview also brings out his views on the making of Mystic and he even enters into some political discussion about America's foreign policy!

    Once again, like Eastwood's interview, this is quite easy to listen to, which is just as well given the 50 minute runtime.

    Kevin Bacon (19:05)

    The shortest of the three interviews on this disc. Perhaps because poor Kevin was the only one of the three leads not to win an Oscar? He talks a lot about his previous roles, of course pointing out that his role as Sean Devine in Mystic is his best ever role (don't they always?).

    Much like Eastwood and Robbins, he comes across as quite a modest guy and is also quite laid-back and doesn't really try to take over the interview at any stage.

Teaser Trailer (1:12)

   Presented at 2.35:1 and 16x9 enhanced. The original theatrical teaser trailer for Mystic River, made more enjoyable because the voiceover is by Clint Eastwood.

Theatrical Trailer (2:26)

   The original full trailer for the film, presented in 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced. The voiceover is not by Clint.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    In Region 1 this title is available for purchase in a number of versions:

    - a 3 disc set containing exactly the same material as the R4 2-disc set, but with an additional audio CD of the movie soundtrack.

    - a single disc "widescreen" version which appears to have no extras

    - a single disc "fullscreen" version which also appears to have no extras.

    If you were keen on the soundtrack CD, then the 3-disc set would be the way to go. Otherwise, the current R4 2-disc release would be the best, unless for some reason you wanted the fullscreen version, or couldn't wait till the R4 release in late July 2004!


    Mystic River is a great, if not outstanding, movie that is well presented on this DVD. It's lovely to put this film on during a quiet evening and let yourself get absorbed into the story and feel for the characters, and let the whole experience flow over you. It's great to find an 'old fashioned' film, in which the focus is on an interesting story, great acting and one that is free from CGI, tacky and flashy directing or photography, and loud crashy soundtracks!  Yes, I did find some elements of the film slightly less than ideal, such as the slightly 'convenient' wrap-up at the end, but the disappointments were few and far between.

    Given the multiple story elements within the film, and the superb acting and storytelling, this film should stand up well to repeat viewings.

    The video quality is very high with no visible flaws.

    The audio seems to have been mastered a little too softly, requiring a higher than normal setting on your amplifier or TV. However, it is clear at all times.

    The extras are quite plentiful (in fact there's a 2nd disc of extras) and of a reasonable quality, if a little repetitive in some of the material they carry.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Satish Rajah (don't read my bio!)
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output
DisplaySony KV-XA34M31 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2801
SpeakersMain: Mission 753; Centre: Mission m7c2; rear: Mission 77DS; Sub: JBL PB10

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