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There are people who say that Sean Penn is without doubt the best living actor. There are other people who say that you can never be 100 per cent sure, but that’s only mathematics. And there are people like myself who still cannot believe that somebody like Clint Eastwood (remember: the guy with the cigarillo and the poncho, who was  always wearing dirty boots and hardly ever spoke a work) keeps directing one outrageously brillant film after the other. I remember that when I watched "Bird" I kept reminding myself that this is surely something special to see a movie in which Eastwood does not play, but does direct, a rather exotic one-off experience like a film by Laurence Olivier. However: while I have surely not seen all these films, the standard he sets is so amazingly high, and the whole wir so extremely laid back, that noone will ever be able to explain to me how come that so many directors are not able to do the same. Looks so easy, so smooth. And, yes, Sean Penn: this could be the combination of the century, really. The most-suffering actor ever and the most relaxed director do a thriller together. The result, of course, is less a thriller: it’s a thrilling melodrama with exclusively excellent actors, brilliant music, perfect camera and editing. There is a thriller hidden inside, of course. Who killed the daughter, and why, something which is surely a driving force behind the (supposedly excellent) novel by … Denis Lehaene? Something along these lines. But of course it is so much more interesting to join those guys wondeing what life could have been if another of the kids had been sitting in the backseat of this car some decades ago. Would life be different? Would the cop be the killer? Would the suspect be the lawyer? And why do all these couples distrust each other so much that the wife hands over her husband into the hands of his murderer?

Nick Hornby wrote about the book: "I want to have friends who recommend books like ‘Mystic River’ to me. Noone told me for years what an excellent book that is. Are you out there, friend, and tell me more? Pleeeese!" (very free quotation). And if I will ever miss another Eastwood film again, may my eyes drop out of my skull in despair…

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