City By The Sea

Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: Robert De Niro, Frances McDormand, James Franco, Eliza Dushku
Director: Michael Caton-Jones

Robert De Niro stars as Vincent LaMarca a hardworking dedicated cop working homicide in New York City. He has a past he doesn’t talk about and a girlfriend who would like to move forward in their relationship but Vincent is comfortable where they are.

Things change however when Vincent’s latest case involves a murder in Long Beach, Long Island a now run-down seaside resort that holds memories Vincent would prefer to avoid.

To complicate matters even more the main suspect is Vincent’s estranged son Joey (James Franco), who not only has a drug problem but also a baby son of his own that Vincent doesn’t even know about.

CITY BY THE SEA is a crime-drama where the relationship between Vincent, his son Joey and Joey’s baby son are just as important to the story as the crimes being investigated. It’s also unusual because of its location Long Beach – the self proclaimed ‘City by the Sea’ and its rundown derelict areas, a long way from the usual crowded city streets that many New York based cop movies portray.

While the story runs at a fairly leisurely pace the film remains tense and the depth of the characters are very well explored. De Niro is more than comfortable in this kind of role making his feelings believable to the audience. He is well supported by an excellent cast including James Franco, who won awards for his portrayal of James Dean in the film of the same name. Eliza Dushku (Faith in the TV series BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) playing Joey’s girlfriend and mother of his baby particularly stands out in the film and although she has one of the main roles it’s a pity she doesn’t get more screen time as she clearly has so much potential.

CITY BY THE SEA probably is not likely to set the movie world on fire but it’s definitely a film worth watching.

4 out of 6 stars

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