Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA/Australia, 2003. Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures, NPV Entertainment, Malpaso Productions. Screenplay by Brian Helgeland, based on the novel by Dennis Lehane. Cinematography by Tom Stern. Produced by Clint Eastwood, Judie Hoyt, Robert Lorenz. Music by Clint Eastwood. Production Design by Henry Bumstead. Costume Design by Deborah Hopper. Film Editing by Joel Cox. Academy Awards 2003. Cannes Film Festival 2003. Golden Globe Awards 2003.
Two kids watch their friend get kidnapped and come back a completely changed person after two years, then thirty years later are struck by another tragedy that is loosely tied to their traumatic experience. The audience is given what seems like the whole story when Sean Penn‘s teenage daughter gets murdered the same night that the childhood kidnap victim (Tim Robbins) comes home covered in blood and tells his anxious wife (Marcia Gay Harden) that he was attacked by a mugger who he then beat senseless and left for dead. Enter third friend Kevin Bacon, now a homicide detective, to investigate the girl’s murder while re-experiencing the painful memories of his youth. This Clint Eastwood-directed mystery is his most complex and atmospheric in years, featuring equally brilliant acting from the entire cast and some very powerful moments both touching and suspenseful. The eventual outcome, however, is a bit too blunt and the film wears too many of its emotional themes on its sleeve. With such an obvious ending, the film is satisfying but not in any way overwhelming enough to be memorable five minutes after it is over.