Here's yet another award winning film that I am finally getting around to watching. This effort by Clint Eastwood was certainly worth the wait. It is his best film in years, and he's not the only one associated with this project that you can say that about.
By now, most who are familiar with the basic plot of this film know that it centers around three men, one of whom was abducted as a child. Escaping days later, he grows up to be slightly off kilter at almost all times. And of course, this character is played by Tim Robbins, who won Best Supporting Actor at the 2003 Oscars. Joining him is the 2003 Best Actor, Sean Penn as another of the friends who's daughter's death is the centerpiece to the rest of the film. The last of the threesome is played by Kevin Bacon. He is the cop that has grown out of touch with these Boston neighborhood chums and now must investigate the death of Penn's daughter. Together, the form an impressive ensemble, especially when joined by Lawrence Fishburne, Laura Linney and Marcia Gay Harden.
The acting in this film is a clinic in many ways. And Eastwood does a nice job keeping the cast as an ensemble rather than allowing the plot to focus on any one of them for too long. And this of course, brings me to the script. I found it to be fascinating up until the very end. The film takes you on a guess ride until the final moments. When you realize what really happened, you will most likely find yourself sad at the events that transpired because of it. People who should not be hurt further, are hurt further. People who should be made to stand up for their actions, are not made to do so. I cannot say exactly what these things are, because it would ruin the film for you, but let me just say I was left baffled by the ending. Perhaps I should applaud that it was not wrapped up in a neat and tidy package, but it just made no sense to me.
Further, I have to say that both Linney and Harden are either underused, or overused in the film. The areas in which I could have used them were absent, and there were moments when I questioned why they were there when they should not have been. Again, difficult to explain without sharing the plot completely, so watch it and find out what I mean.
Eastwood creates a nice feel for this film. The colors and angles all serve the purpose of the texture he was going for, and the music is just enough to punch the scenes it is used in. Overall, this was a masterful effort by one of our most talented directors, marred only by the odd way the film ended. It is too bad, because up until that time, I actually started to think that perhaps The Return of the King robbed this film of Best Picture last year. But in fact, the rightful film won (since Monster was not nominated for Best Picture.) Still, this movie is a must see, if for anything else, to see the strong performances by Robbins and Penn. Watch it yourself. Reaction is often subjective, so perhaps you might find the ending reasonable and understandable. And you certainly won't be disappointed by the other 2 hours of film time. That is all.