City By The Seatest

"Excellent"

City By The Seatest Review


Relationships between fathers and sons must be the "in" topic for Hollywood. Road to Perdition was a moving story about the sacrifices made by generations of mob fathers to provide for their boys. Similar relationships are presented in City by the Sea; however, this film explores the opposite phenomenon. In City by the Sea, the lack of sacrifice by two generations of fathers has lasting repercussions on their children.

City by the Sea is inspired by the true events surrounding the life of New York City Homicide Detective Vincent LaMarca. A veteran of the police force, LaMarca (Robert De Niro) returns to the boardwalks of Long Beach, Long Island (a.k.a. City by the Sea), where he grew up, to investigate a homicide that his son Joey (James Franco) is under suspicion of committing. Vincent and Joey have been estranged since Vincent divorced his wife (Patti LuPone) 14 years ago. As a result, Joey has fallen into the pitfalls of drugs and vagrancy. When a drug deal goes bad, and Joey kills the dealer in the ensuing struggle, he becomes the target of many overzealous police officers who want to charge him with the crime. Joey is also the target for another drug dealer (William Forsythe) who wants the drug money he thinks Joey stole.

In all, City by the Sea is about taking responsibilities for one's actions. During his personal investigation, Vincent must confront his own painful past where numerous rash decisions have caused his son's disastrous downfall. He has always kept hidden these deeper life secrets, even from his current love Michelle (Frances McDormand). Now, Joey must face up to the penalties of his crime. But, like his father, he refuses to accept the consequences for his actions. "It wasn't the real me who killed that guy," Joey admits to Vincent. This same sentiment mirrors an earlier conversation Vincent had with Michelle as he explains why he has never revealed his troubled past to her - "because that was the old me," he says. It's not difficult to see the parallels between the two men. As the saying goes, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

The only problem I had with City by the Sea was the sentimental overkill triggered by the constant repetition of its theme. If we didn't get the point with the connection between Vincent and son Joey, we saw it in the relationship between Vincent and his father. But, just for good measure, the same points are also made with Vincent and Michelle and then Vincent, Joey, and Joey's girlfriend Gina. Have I lost you yet? Supposedly, all the events in the film actually happened (though much has already been written regarding the validity of them) so there may be no basis for my complaint - it could have all transpired. And to director Michael Caton-Jones' credit, he refuses to embellish numerous events with meaningless subscripts that polish the jagged corners into happier resolutions.

Fiction or non-fiction, all of the performances are top-notch. De Niro is a standout as the conflicted father and police detective in a highly emotional and complex role. This is one of his strongest performances to date and one of the year's best. Franco meets the challenge of his role opposite De Niro by playing a younger version of his father as he too struggles to make the right life decisions regarding his crime and drug use. Also strong in this ensemble work is McDormand, whose love for Vincent pushes the limits of her commitment to him, and prompts equally difficult choices for her as a result.

City by the Sea is a painfully real look at the emotional toll years of faulty parenting can have on the relationships between fathers and sons as well as the innocent loved ones surrounding them. Though tough decisions must be made, there is also a glimmer of hope that owning up to such failings could ultimately lead to new, brighter beginnings.

Robbers and cops.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.