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Mystic River - Sing With Me If It's Just For Today... — LiveJournal
If I should fall behind, Guyster, wait for me.
Mystic River
I saw Mystic River yesterday which, it turns out, is nothing more than a Law&Order episode with a high-ticket cast. I'm not certain why it has gotten the breathless praise or the Oscar buzz for its cast. Sean Penn and Marcia Gay Hardin, in particular, are very good but this is hardly an artistic high for them, and as for it being Eastwood’s best film, I beg to differ. Mystic River doesn't have the scope of Unforgiven, the bravura of White Hunter, Black Heart, the heartbreaking romance of The Bridges of Madison County or the giddy fun of Play Misty For Me.

The film also features two of my pet peeves. When actors are supposed to be crying and make the cry-face, tears should follow. Dry crying just doesn't cut it and for the salary they're making on this picture, the actors could at least buy some Visine to kick in the waterworks. Tim Robbins was guiltiest of this lazy acting behavior in Mystic River.

But there was something deeper that bothered me and cuts to my heart, and one that continues to proliferate in our popular culture. It is the rubbernecking morbidity of the process of death. More accurately, it's what happens when the soul leaves the physical body that seems to be the most popular fodder for television and film.

The entire first act of Mystic River is given over to the morgue, the autopsy, and the funeral arrangements. America's favorite show is C.S.I. while one of the most heralded is Six Feet Under. The detached treatment most shows give the process speaks to writers who’ve never experienced the numbing horror of living through those situations. I actually understand the fascination. I used to have it as well.

But once you've had the most important and loved person in your life actually lie in a morgue for a week, after you've had your precious cargo go through an autopsy, after you’ve had to choose the final things they'll ever wear, and not until you’ve sat in a state of numbing disorientation in a funeral director's office, answering gruesome questions and making choices you never, ever even pondered, it's not until then that morbidity loses its entertainment value.

Most will never experience it and if they do, it is usually for a parent, not a spouse or child. I'm not saying one is worse than the other although losing a parent is a more expected event, one for which we spend a lifetime preparing. The majority will never see their loved one taken away in a body bag by people looking at their watch and wondering when their coffee break is. Most people live in the happy abstraction of these incidents and they can gleefully watch Real Autopsy or Forensic Files with absolutely no sense of what it's really like.

But for those who have been forced down that dark hallway, they never want to see it again. Ever.

Current Music: CNN - coincidently a commercial for Mystic RIver

3 comments or Leave a comment
ubermunkey From: ubermunkey Date: October 13th, 2003 08:11 am (UTC) (Link)
wow great passionate post.
I hold your opinions but for different reasons.
I think that there is way too much desensitization in our lives. We are presented with graphic images so many times that real life becomes less real. It's like just another episode or series of hollywood filmed drama and trauma.
More sensationalism that takes us a step further from being able to feel.

I have not had the experience you have and am grateful that you share your insights. I hope I never have to live them first hand.
fabulist From: fabulist Date: October 13th, 2003 08:20 am (UTC) (Link)
The death fetish in film (and TV) is just one more bit of evidence that good writing is utterly moribund in the land of media. Want to add some depth to your characters? Kill a family member, or chuck in a rape, or child abuse, or [insert stock crisis here]. It's what you get when you aim for a mass demographic, sticking to the blue chip tropes of love and death out of cowardice and an utter lack of ideas.

There are more epiphanies in the world than the ones brought on by the hoary old standbys, but you'd never know it from looking to the mass media these days.
spleenless From: spleenless Date: October 13th, 2003 01:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Boo Boo Crying

What I hate about the cry face is not the lack of tears, it's the lack of snot. And red mottled faces, red noses, puffy eyes, etc... Pretty crying is not a true cry.

As for the fascination with death - we watch what we fear, though I can't really see the thrill. I do have to admit I liked 6 Feet Under while I had cable, but more for the complexity of characters.
3 comments or Leave a comment