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7 Movies like Mystic River: Clint Eastwood’s Stories

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Andy McKendry itcherClint Eastwood’s Mystic River is a tale of a community torn apart by the murder of a child. If you enjoy intricate (and dark) thrillers then here are some movies like Mystic River including Prisoners, Gone Baby Gone, and Changeling.
~ Andy McKendry

The Truth Hurts

In Mystic River a small American community finds that the murder of a young girl has far reaching implications. The murder investigation starts to look closely at friends of the dead child’s father and it seems likely that someone that the girl knew was responsible for her death.
This prompts a covert investigation by the child’s father and one that he carries out unbeknownst to the police. It’s a tale of suspicion and blame and it’s one that shows just how little we know about our nearest and dearest.
Clint Eastwood’s film carries us towards some uncomfortable truths. Here are some films similar to Mystic River that share thematic concerns.
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Movies Similar to ‘Mystic River’…

‘Prisoners’ (Dennis Villeneuve, 2013)

This is the story of binary opposition. It tells the tale of two missing children, a father who seeks out his own justice, and an embattled, but professional, police detective trying to do his job.

It stars Hugh Jackman in the role of the father and Jake Gyllenhaal as the detective. It’s a great central pairing and it really serves to drive the narrative forwards and it finds great drama too. Prisoners is a clever film about the nature of revenge and the danger of reacting too quickly and meting out the wrong sort of justice.

Similarity Match: 80%
Prisoners is a convincing tale that unfolds in a manner reminiscent of Mystic River.

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‘Gone Baby Gone’ (Ben Affleck, 2007)

This is a film written and directed by Ben Affleck and it stars his younger brother Casey Affleck in the main role. It stands as a good example of what the brothers can do when they work together and it tells a great story in the process.

The narrative involves a private detective and his girlfriend who search for a kidnapped Bostonian girl. His search however is not without conflict and our PI has to go toe to toe with the girl’s aunt, a hard-nosed lawman, and a violent drug dealer.

Similarity Match: 70%
In Gone Baby Gone the search is on for a missing child – there’s hope rather than the unrelenting sadness of Eastwood’s Mystic River.

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‘Changeling’ (Clint Eastwood, 2008)

This is another great piece of cinema from the increasingly prolific Clint Eastwood. It’s set in the late 1920s and it tells the story of a missing child and the strange events that mark his return months after he disappeared.

There’s nothing quite like a mother’s love and Changeling explores that concept in great detail. The mother (Angelina Jolie) doesn’t believe that the returned child is her own however the local authorities vehemently deny that there could have been a mix up.

Similarity Match: 70%
There is something nightmarish about the narrative in Changeling and its story is a sort of David and Goliath tale about one woman who knew the truth and the authorities that claimed she was wrong.

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‘Zodiac’ (David Fincher, 2007)

I’ve included this film on the list due to its thematic concerns and the fact that tonally it’s similar to Mystic River. But it’s a different sort of story too. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal as an investigative reporter who is attempting to find out the identity of a serial killer known as Zodiac.

Really though it’s a tale of obsession and the one man who refuses to give up until he gets to the bottom of it all. It’s based on a true story and one that shows the potential for violence and darkness inherent in humanity.

Similarity Match: 60%
Not a carbon copy of Eastwood’s Mystic River but one that shares a similar procedural approach to finding the eponymous killer.

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If You like ‘Mystic River’, You Will like…

Writing this list has made me think about Clint Eastwood’s career as a director. It’s something that he has done for decades now and so I thought that it would be good to include some of his better directorial efforts.

Here are some other movies like Mystic River that are diverse, eclectic, and stand as great examples of the work that Eastwood has done throughout his career.

‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ (Clint Eastwood, 1976)

Eastwood’s acting career is forever linked to the Western genre and he is known for his portrayal of hard-bitten gunslingers who have little to say. The Outlaw Josey Wales is a traditional Western genre piece and it stars and is directed by Clint Eastwood.

This is assured filmmaking from a director who knows the genre well.

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‘Letters from Iwo Jima’ (Clint Eastwood, 2006)

This is the tale of Japanese soldiers fighting on Iwo Jima at the tail end of the Second World War. It’s a humanist portrayal of the men and it provides context and backstory to the lives lived and lost under the shadow of the last Japanese emperor.

This is a touching account of a notable conflict and it finds a human heart beating in amongst the mechanised warfare.

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‘Flags of Our Fathers’ (Clint Eastwood, 2006)

This is a companion piece to Letters from Iwo Jima. In Flags of Our Fathers the story is concerned with the US troops fighting for control of Iwo Jima. The two films stand as contrasting perspectives on an event that for one side was a victory and for the other was a horrific loss.

Watching both of these films shows just how pointless conflict is and it serves to humanise the ‘enemy’ and show them as much more than just targets.

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My Thoughts

I would suggest watching Prisoners or Gone Baby Gone if you’re looking for something very similar to Mystic River however Eastwood’s WW2 double bill is a great example of the director telling a nuanced and cinematic story.

Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

I’m a writer. It’s what I do and what I′ve always done. As a child I wrote on walls with a crayon. Now I write for websites. I write for my blog where I post reviews of films, TV, and occasionally write short stories and I also run a writer and illustration collective. Whatever I do involves words, and plenty of them. I’m an avid cinephile, a screenwriter, and I love telling stories. I have an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University, UK, and I work on a freelance basis and drink far too much coffee.
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