Mystic River is a 2003 American drama film directed, co-produced and scored by Clint Eastwood, starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney and Emmy Rossum. The film was written by Brian Helgeland, based on Dennis Lehane's novel of the same name.
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Three boys, Jimmy Markum, Sean Devine and Dave Boyle, play hockey in a Boston street in 1975. A car pulls up and a man pretending to be a police officer gets out, and tells Dave to get in the car. He is held in a basement and abused by two child molesters. Four days later, he escapes.
Twenty-five years later, the boys are now grown and, while they still live in Boston, have drifted apart. Jimmy is an ex-con running a neighborhood store, while Dave is a blue-collar worker, still haunted by his abduction. The two are still neighbors and related by marriage. Jimmy's 19 year old daughter Katie is secretly dating Brendan Harris, a boy Jimmy despises. She and Brendan are planning on eloping to marry in Las Vegas.
Katie goes out for the night with her girlfriends and is seen by Dave at a local bar. That night, Katie is murdered, and Dave comes home with an injured hand and blood on his clothes, which his wife Celeste helps him clean up. Dave claims that he fought off a mugger and "bashed his head into the concrete", and possibly killed him. Sean, who is now a detective with the Massachusetts State Police, investigates Katie's murder. In a subplot, Sean's pregnant wife Lauren has left him.
Over the course of the film, Sean and his partner, Sergeant Whitey Powers, track down leads while Jimmy conducts his own investigation using his neighborhood connections. Sean discovers that the gun used to kill Katie was also used in a liquor store robbery during the 1980s by "Just Ray" Harris, the father of Brendan (Katie's boyfriend). Harris has been missing for some time, but Brendan claims he still sends his family $500 every month. Brendan also feigns ignorance about Ray's gun but Sean believes that it was still in the house. Sergeant Powers suspects Dave as a possible perpetrator because he was one of the last people to see Katie alive. He also has a wounded hand and even though he continues to tell his wife he got it while being mugged, he tells the police a different story – soon Jimmy becomes suspicious of it. Dave continues to behave strangely, which upsets his wife to the point she is afraid he will hurt her. While Jimmy and his associates conduct their investigation, Dave's wife eventually tells Jimmy about Dave's behavior and the bloody clothing and her suspicions.
Jimmy and his friends get Dave drunk at a local bar. When Dave leaves the bar, the men follow him out. Jimmy tells Dave that he shot "Just Ray" Harris at that same location for ratting him out and sending him to jail. Jimmy informs Dave that his wife thinks he murdered Katie and tells Dave that he will let him live if he confesses; if he does not he will kill him. Dave repeatedly tells Jimmy that he did kill someone but it was not Katie: he beat a child molester to death after finding him having sex with a child prostitute in a car. Jimmy does not believe Dave's claim and threatens him with a knife. When Dave finally admits to killing Katie thinking he can escape with his life, Jimmy kills him and disposes of his body in the adjacent Mystic River.
While Dave is being killed, Brendan (having found out about his father's gun during questioning) confronts his younger brother Ray Jr. and his brother's friend John about Katie's murder. He beats the two boys and threatens to kill them if they do not admit their guilt, but he is almost shot by John. Sean and Powers arrive just in time to stop it.
The next morning, Sean tells Jimmy that the police have Katie's murderers – who have confessed. She was killed by Brendan's brother and his friend in a violent prank gone wrong. Sean asks Jimmy if he has seen Dave, because he is wanted for questioning in another case, the murder of a known child molester. A distraught Jimmy thanks Sean for finding his daughter's killers, but says "if only you had been a little faster." Sean asks Jimmy if he's going to "send Celeste Boyle $500 a month too?". Sean reunites with his wife and his daughter Nora, after apologizing for "driving her away". Jimmy goes to his wife and confesses. She comforts him and tells him that he is a king and kings always make the right decision. At a town parade, Sean sees Jimmy, and mimes shooting him, to let Jimmy know Sean is watching.
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