Film-Buff Movie Reviews
Film-Buff Movie Reviews

CITY BY THE SEA (2002) ***

Robert De Niro stars in this gritty crime drama. He plays detective Vincent LaMarca, a very respected veteran cop who has both past and future generations of his family to contend with, as well as strong feelings of conflict and guilt. When his son, Joey (James Franco) was a kid, Vincent walked out on him after he and his first wife got divorced. He has regretted it ever since, and Joey has never forgiven him for walking. Now, when faced with the possibility that his son has committed a murder, he is conflicted with feeling of doing right by his family and doing right by his profession.

The characters in the film are the driving force behind this movie. You feel for LaMarca because of his past, and you feel his regret. And when a second and third chance comes along, you want him to make the right decision. You feel for Joey, a mixed up junkie who is trying to clean up his act, but is trapped because he is surrounded by people who want to take advantage of his situation. You feel for Michelle (Frances McDormand, who plays Vincentís love interest) who just wants to get close to Vincent and truly get to know him. All three of these actors delivered very strong and somewhat emotionally draining performances.

For a crime drama, based on true events, there were a surprisingly high number of laughs. I hope they were intentional because they were quite funny. De Niro has a great affinity for comedic timing and with a clever script, was able to deliver a chuckle or two. Itís not a comedy, by any means, but the laughs here and there were more than welcome and didnít take away from the intensity of the film.

IMDb - City by the Sea