This is an Oscar winning film that has everything going for it – writing, acting and directing. It was one of the best films of 2003. Everything in the film revolves around tension, guilt and anxiety. Nothing about the film is predictable and the ending is one of the more devastating I've seen.
It is sometime in the past and three young boys growing up in Boston are playing. One of the young boys is lured into a car by a man and another man. The pedophile tricks the young boy by pretending he is a policeman.
We are now in the present and Jimmy Markham (Sean Penn – Dead Man Walking, I Am Sam) was a small-time crook who did some time in jail twenty years previous. Reformed, he is now a family man who owns a small liquor store. His life of crime seems to be over.
When he was younger Jimmy was friends with Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon – Footloose, Frost/Nixon) and Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins – Shawshank Redemption, Bull Durham). Devine grew up to be a police detective and when Markham's 19-year-old daughter, Katie (Emmy Rossum – The Phantom of the Opera, The Day After Tomorrow), is found murdered the detective vows to his old friend to find out who did it. The three childhood friends are reunited, but it is not under the best of circumstances.
This is not your average murder mystery. The whodunnit is filled with intrigue and tension. Director Clint Eastwood (Changeling, Million Dollar Baby) makes sure the film is uncompromising. He never backs away from the ugly truth or takes the easy way out. It is one of the best films of the 31 he has directed. Eastwood gives each of the actors enough time to develop their characters, for us to understand them and why they act the way they do. The director allows the film to be about the story and the characters. It is never about fancy camera angles or special effects.
The film really concentrates on how events from our young years go on to shape the people we become. Tragic events always end up haunting us. The pain of each of the three male friends is something of a character in the film. It is always there and so thick that at times you feel as if you can reach out and touch it.
Each of the actors in the film becomes their characters. Sean Penn is perfect as the man going through the roughest time of his life. Tim Robbins as the man who has lived his life on the edge of madness will break your heart. Kevin Bacon is solid as the cop. Marcia Gay Harden (Pollack, Whip It) and Laura Linney (The Nanny Diaries, The Savages) do fine jobs in supporting roles as the men's wives.
For those who have not seen the film it looks wonderful in blu-ray and after you see it it will remain for most one of the more memorable films of recent times.
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