My choice as 2003’s best film is Mystic River, which introduces us to characters burdened by their choices. Three boys are playing in the street one day when two men approach them. The men say they are policemen and order one of the boys to get into their car, leaving the other two to watch as the car drives away. Later, as adults, the abduction haunts each of them: Why did one get in the car and why not the other two? Their unshared memories strain their adult relationships.
With Mystic River, 73-year-old Clint Eastwood has made a film that surpasses even his 1992 Unforgiven, another story of choices made by men who are unable to face what they have done to themselves and to others. The main characters in Mystic River are played by Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon. Two of their wives (Marcia Gay Harden and Laura Linney) offer their husbands support, but their efforts only dig their spouses deeper into despair.