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‘River’ is good, but book is better

Josh Kleinbaum is the city hall reporter for the News-Press, the

Leader’s sister publication.

Put together a terrific ensemble cast, a great story line and an

actor-turned- director determined to make his directorial opus, and

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there’s a good chance you’ll get a great movie. Just don’t read the

book first.

“Mystic River,” Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s

book, tells the story of three lives that diverged with one gruesome

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crime during childhood and come back together again with another

crime 25 years later.

The story intertwines the past and the present, showing how our

childhood can haunt us years later. As Jimmy Markum, Sean Penn

delivers a stirring performance -- which is no surprise -- and Tim

Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne and Laura Linney provide

stellar support.

But the story often seems shallow. Eastwood tries to show the

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powerful emotions the two events can cause in a person, a family and

a community, but the emotional wrenching often turns into little more

than a murder mystery.

For a 2 1/2 hour movie, it lacks the emotional depth that Lehane

gave the book, which takes a close look at class struggles and

emotional demons in all three of the main characters. The movie does

not even discuss the class issues, and the emotional struggles seem

trivialized and forced.

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On its own, “Mystic River” may be a good movie. But if you want to

get the most out of a terrific story, pick up Lehane’s novel.

“Mystic River” is rated R for language and violence.


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