8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 20, 2003
Jury' dismissed out of confusion
By Justin Weiner
Daily Arts Writer
MOVIE REVIEW *
One generally knows what to expect
from a movie based on a John
Grisham novel. A moralistic, Southern
lawyer represents an unfairly persecut-
ed client against a giant, evil corpora-
tion represented by a sleazy yet skilled
"Runaway Jury," the seventh
Grisham novel adapted to film, retains
all of these elements, but adds a slight
INTO THE 'MYSTIC'
EAST WOOD' S MASTERFUL PORTRAIT OF PERSONAL PAIN
twist to the basic
Instead of relying
on standard dra-
matic orations and
movie focuses on
a battle to manipu-
late the jury.
20th Century Fox
Courtesy or 20th century Fox
No, no, I love your tits, love 'em, I wanna fondle 'em.
By Zach Mabee
Daily Arts Writer
Clint Eastwood's abysmal eyes and their searing glare
are a surefire means of weakening even the most res-
olute of characters. His look begs you to wonder
whether there's any humanity left under his weathered,
battle-tested skin. After seeing
"Mystic River," his newest directori-
al effort, the answer is a definite and Mystic River
resounding "yes. At Showcase and
Set in present day South Boston, Quality 16
"Mystic" tells the story of Jimmy Warner Bros.
(Sean Penn), Dave (Tim Robbins)
and Sean (Kevin Bacon). As youths, the three inseparable
boyhood friends are torn apart when Dave is abducted by
kidnappers, tortured and sexually abused.
He survives the ordeal, but the friends grow apart with
time. Only when Jimmy's daughter is mysteriously mur-
dered years later are they brought back together; their
reunion, however, is not for better. Sean is the homicide
detective on the case, and his investigation only rekindles
past problems and demons that eventually lead to tragedy.
This story is ideal for Eastwood's exploration of
pain and misfortune, for his keen observations on the
frailty of people that he understands so well. If setting
can be set aside, this movie is much like his great
westerns: at once a probing character study and simple
morality tale about friendship and the problems of
pain and heartbreak.
The setup is fraught with anticipation, as all the guys
initially seem to be leading lives of contentment and com-
fort in their boyhood borough. Something is bound to go
wrong. The introduction of the murder and the downward
spiral into the film's dark bowels is done wonderfully by
Clint and co. In a scene reminiscent of the closing bap-
tism in "The Godfather," shots of Jimmy's daughter's first
communion and his other daughter's murder scene are
spliced and juxtaposed brilliantly by editor Joel Cox.
Once pain enters the equation, it inexorably remains.
"Mystic" drags all the skeletons out of its characters' clos-
ets and allows them to deliver Oscar-worthy individual
performances. Penn plays Jimmy with unyielding force
and aggression, as he balances his craving for vigilantism
and vengeance and attempts to sidestep his criminal past.
Robbins hides his love away as Dave and shows all the
scars that we'd expect to see in a victim of such abuse.
And Bacon delivers Sean as an ambivalent friend, trying
hard to balance an obligation to buddies with one to the
law, all the while attempting to recover his lost love life
with his estranged wife.
The supporting cast, including Laurence Fishburne,
Marcia Gay Harden and Laura Linney, is nearly as
remarkable as the leads, and the roles are surely as emo-
tive and personal as could be expected. It's these charac-
ters that are the outstanding factor in "Mystic," the
personal, sympathetic individuals that we all understand
so well, and that Eastwood understands even better.
Wood's (Joanna Going, "Phantoms")
husband is shot and killed in his office,
she turns to attorney Wendell Rohr
(Dustin Hoffman). Rohr files a lawsuit
against the gun manufacturer that neg-
ligently allowed its guns to fall into the
hands of criminals. The gun company
hires Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman) to
fix the trail by bullying and manipulat-
ing the jury to decide in his client's
favor. Fitch seems to have total control
of the jury, until juror Nicholas Easter
(John Cusack) and his girlfriend Mar-
lee (Rachel Weisz, "The Mummy")
begin their own game of manipulation
Though the cat-and-mouse game
between Easter and Fitch is not typical
Grisham fare, it adds little entertain-
ment value. Their uncanny ability to
manipulate the jurors and the events in
the courtroom seems highly implausi-
ble. Furthermore, the film becomes
overburdened by the added plot twist. Is
this a dramatic story of a lawsuit against
gun manufacturers, or is it a thriller
about control and exploitation? "Run-
away Jury" just contains too many plot
elements, sub-stories and characters.
There are, however, moments in
"Runaway Jury" that make the movie
worthwhile. Rohr's confrontation with
Fitch is a stirring homage to the
integrity of justice in America, and
watching Hackman and Hoffman
square off is certainly something spe-
cial. Also, Cusack provides some
amusing and entertaining moments, as
his character subtly wrests control of
the jury from Fitch.
If the film had only focused on the
unwavering honor of Wendell Rohr, or
the cunningness of Nicholas Easter, it
may have made for a better movie. In
the end, however, the overly abundant
plots and superfluous characters dilute
the action of "Runaway Jury" and doom
the film to failure.
Blanchett remarkable in Guerin' role
By Jennie Adler
Daily Arts Writer
With "Veronica Guerin," Joel Schu-
macher takes a break from action to
direct a little-known true story. Veronica
Guerin, an Irish journalist credited with
helping diminish the drug world, finally
has her story told in the States.
The movie opens with the attack
leading to Guerin's brutal death, then
flashes back two
years earlier to tell
the story of the Veronica
very public investi- Guerin
gation that brought At Showcase and
her downfall. In Quality 16
the 1990s, with Touchstone
Ireland's drug use
at an all time high, Guerin, writing for
Dublin's Sunday Independent sets aside
her government-crime articles to pursue
head-honcho drug trafficker. Impas-
Courtesy of Touchstone
Oh. Well that explains the hijacking.
sioned by "innocent" drugged-up teens
and children playing with old hypoder-
mic needles, she falls deeper and deeper
into the underground world of drugs
eventually leading to the drug lord him-
self, John Gilligan (Gerard McSorley).
McSorley is a maddened pocket-
sized man who compensates for his
stature with his big mouth. With dia-
logue like "I'll kidnap your boy and ride
him," he adds the right amount of fear
In addition to McSorley's colorful
role is the remarkable performance of
Cate Blanchett as Guerin. Blanchett,
still beautiful as ever, shows off her act-
ing chops in a hoity-toity BBC get-up.
She's in almost every scene (an impres-
sive task), which makes sense consider-
ing the hot-dogging character of
Guerin. She's so determined and self-
absorbed, she forgets her understanding
husband and toddler son. She is so wor-
ried about appearing fearless that she
loses sight of the real threats to her life.
In parts, the plot is repetitive and
uneventful (but then again, it is based
on a real life).
The movie so quickly jumps back
and forth between Guerin questioning
an Irish thug to pumping her sources for
information and late nights with her
family, that after about 30 minutes, the
inspiration of helping drugged up kids
is entirely forgotten.
Despite the often cyclical plot, you
find yourself sympathizing with
Guerin's cause and fighting for the
good side so that her struggle for justice
is the motivation for the entire film. By
the end, when the movie catches up
with its past, you are attached to her.
With the help of quality acting, a
moving human-interest story and big
names like Schumacher (as well as an
unnecessary cameo from Colin Farrell),
"Guerin" just makes the headlines.
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