The Bayley Film Club: Clint Eastwood

Week 12:

Director: Clint Eastwood

‘A Perfect World’
‘Mystic River’

‘A Perfect World


Author: Agsy E Drapinska

Anticipation: 4
Enjoyment: 4
Retrospect: 3
Score: 11

‘A Perfect World’ was a revisit for me into the Texas Ranger’s reality seen through the eyes of Clint Eastwood. The first time I have seen this film was many years ago, but even then it made a strong impression on me, guaranteeing itself a safe place in my memory. 

‘A Perfect World’ is a story of a convict – Butch Haynes (Kevin Costner) who manages to escape prison and finds himself on the run with a 8-year-old hostage, Phillip aka Buzz. The man builds a relationship with the boy. The Haynes-Phillip dynamic is one of the main messages carried by the film. It’s importance grows even bigger when it is revealed that neither Butch nor Buzz had a father figure present in their life.
At first we have the impression that Phillip is blindly following Haynes, impressed by his masculinity, intelligence and morals (questionable in terms of law, but mostly reasonable). But little Phillip, even though shy and quite reserved, has a very good understanding of good and bad, and manages to take a difficult decision in the moment when it matters the most – something that many grown ups would find difficult to do.

On the other end of the story we have a Texas Ranger “Red” Garrett (Clint Eastwood) accompanied by governor’s assignee Sally Gerber (Laura Dern). Sally is the only woman involved in the pursuit, and she seems to be used to fighting for position in manly environment. She quickly proves her worth when her modern forensic methods based on psychology and understanding the convict’s motives bring value into the on-the-road investigation.

‘A Perfect World’ is a good picture, tackling the questions about morality, what is good, what is bad and how many times it is somewhere in between. Everything is always left to interpretation, and depending on who we ask and what are this person’s biases – we may end up with various outcomes. And that is, in my view, the message being passed by ‘A Perfect World’ – and applicable in life.

‘Mystic River

Author: Agsy E Drapinska

Anticipation: 4
Enjoyment: 4
Retrospect: 4
Score: 12

After writing over 20 reviews for The Bayley Film Club, a person starts noticing some qualities which are needed for a film to be good. Some of these are: good beginning, good middle and a good end. Even better if all three parts correspond with each other smoothly. 

The beginning of ‘Mystic River’ ties the action and provides relevant information for future reference. We are introduced to Jimmy, Sean and Dave, three young boys living in the same neighbourhood in Boston. It’s a regular day in 1975; Dave gets abducted by two men, one pretending to be a police officer and second – a priest. The boy manages to escape after four days of sexual abuse. 

Reintroduction of the characters follows – it’s 25 years later. Sean (Kevin Bacon) is a detective in homicide, Jimmy (Sean Penn) an ex-con who runs a neighbourhood store and Dave (Tim Robbins) is a blue collar worker haunted by his past. Tragedy strikes when Jimmy’s 19-year-old daughter is found dead in a nearby park with two gun shots and multiple bruises. The investigation led by Sean and his partner – Whitey Powers (Laurence Fishburne) – has to compete with Jimmy and the Savage brothers own quest of finding and taking revenge on the killer. 

The beginning and the main part of the film are brilliant – they gradually provide just enough facts for the viewer to speculate on his/her own. Then everything is revealed, all the loose ends are tied and explained. All is clear. And it would be a great film, if it would end on the street where Jimmy and Sean have their final conversation. But it doesn’t – and that spoils the whole effect for me. The following scenes seem unnecessary and do not add much into the narrative.

Overall, I enjoyed ‘Mystic River’ a lot. It is a fine and simple story about a crime, parental love, revenge and psychological scars from the past. One is certain – the guilt flows throughout the ‘Mystic River’. I just wish that Clint Eastwood would shout the final: ‘CUT!’ After this scene:

‘Mystic River’, Kevin Bacon & Sean Penn

‘A Perfect World’

Author: NA Tonge

Anticipation: 3
Enjoyment: 4
Retrospect: 5
Score: 12

Basically, Kevin Costner is brilliant in this film. Whilst his character Butch is ultimately a thief and a murderer, his performance is incredibly warm. He teaches his hostage, an eight year old boy called Phillip, who has had a nonsensically strict religious upbringing with no father, the importance of living in the present and that the future is his to choose.  It’s like watching a stereotypical ‘favourite uncle’ on a mad road trip; but one who is also a thief, murderer, kidnapper and escaped convict.

 Oh, and Clint Eastwood plays a Texas Ranger and his face looks like it’s carved out of wood. Brilliant stuff. 

Mystic River’

Author: NA Tonge

Anticipation: 3
Enjoyment: 4
Retrospect: 4
Score: 11

Tim Robbins, Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon play old friends in mystery drama, ‘Mystic River’ (2003). Following the child abduction and molestation (a topic which never seems too far away in film set in Boston) of Dave Boyle (Robbins), who eventually escapes his abusers, the film cuts to the three boys lives twenty-five years later. The three aren’t close, but they still see each other around. Jimmy (Penn) is a reformed criminal and a convenience store owner. Sean (Bacon) is a detective. Dave is a manual worker. 

Jimmy’s daughter, unbeknownst to him, is set to leave with her boyfriend, the son of a former criminal acquaintance of Jimmy’s, to lead a new life in Las Vegas. However, she is murdered whilst driving home from a night out. On the same night, Dave, disturbed and plagued by thoughts of his abuse as a child, returns home to his wife, covered in blood after an apparent tussle with a mugger, who he thinks he may have killed. Whilst grieving for the loss of his daughter, Jimmy and his old crew race with Sean and his detective partner (Lawrence Fishbourne), to find the killer.

The film was a huge financial success, earning more than 7 times it’s $30 million budget and it is a truly modern example ‘whodunnit’ mystery. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a crime drama, which wasn’t instantly obvious who did it, or was ridiculously complicated or daft in its conclusion. For this reason, I won’t spoil the ending! ‘Mystic River’ remains murky right up until the end, and it doesn’t end as a closed book. Eastwood generates a conundrum for the audience, but he does so with minimal clutter, which provides a genuinely enjoyable watch.

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