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3.4 out of 5 stars
City by the Sea (Widescreen) [Import]
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Vincent LaMarca (Robert De Niro) is a police officer who has problems with intimacy, sharing, and commitment. These issues are reflected in his estranged son Joey (James Franco) who is a drug user and is wanted for murder of a drug dealer named Picasso (Jay Boryea), a murder he did commit. Frances McDormand plays Michelle, the girlfriend of LaMarca, someone who Di Niro has a hard time confiding in. Eliza Dushku is Joey's drug using girlfriend.

As De Niro and the cops are looking for Joey, so is Spyder (William Forsythe) the drug partner of dead Picasso. This is low action cop drama, which delves into the character of LaMarca, and is perhaps a study in psychology on how we are affected by our relationships with our father. The drama overshadows the crime aspect of the story. Well acted, directed etc. I just wasn't overly entertained by the film...and I blame my father for that.

PARENTAL GUIDE: F-bomb, no sex, no nudity.
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on May 27, 2004
This is a movie with a good handle on reality-- warts and all. It focusses on imperfect characters who feel completely real-- incuding DeNiro, whose acting, bad haircut, extra weight, and "average joe" clothing all successfully overcome our preconceived notion of DeNiro as a top-of-his-game mafiosa.
Instead, we see DeNiro, but AS THIS CHARACTER: a warts-and-all cop & bad father, looking for a second chance.
Also, DeNiro's star power doesn't overshadow this movie's second plotline, about a junkie (DeNiro's son), also looking for a second chance....and some kind of family life.
Likewise, the physical setting and peripheral relationships all have a REAL feel. Viewers will come away with the feeling that this is the seamy, redeemable side of real life.. a place you wouldn't want to live, but a state you can recover from.
*spoilers ahead. Stop reading now, if you hate spoilers.*
We get a happy ending, but not a Hollywood unbelievable ending. Some of the relationships STAY fractured, and other elements of the resolution also have that real, imperfect, but therefore acceptably non-saccharine happy ending.
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on March 24, 2004
City By The Sea is an excellent video for my collection of
DeNiro movies, keep up the excellent movie making.
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on February 27, 2004
"City by the Sea" begins as a typical cop drama - Vincent DeMarca (Robert DeNiro) is a good solid New Jersey cop with a history. His father was executed as a "baby-killer", and now Vincent's own son Joey (James Franco), whom he abandoned as a young boy, is a strung out junkie suspected of killing DeMarca's partner. The scenes are predictably dingy and muted, with Frances McDormand popping out of her apartment now and then as DeMarca's girlfriend. The first part of this movie honestly felt like the pilot for a new television drama - with calculated character introductions and back story. But then something marvelous happens: the quality of the acting kicks in to elevate the film beyond its script. James Franco is astonishingly convincing as a junkie who both loves and despises his father, and DeNiro fools us into believing he's just an ordinary guy until the moment when all the layers are stripped off. Frances McDormand does a competent job with what she is given (not much) while adding a needed texture to DeMarca's life.
This film is probably the quietest cop drama I've ever seen because it's not about crimes one can be arrested for. It probes the fragile relationship between fathers and sons, and the obligations each needs to face. The film never picks up the slow paces it sets up in the beginning, so those hoping for the high action of traditional cop dramas will be disappointed. Make no mistake: this is a three-star movie raised to four stars by the performances of DeNiro and Franco. Still, the pivotal scene is a powerful one.
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on December 6, 2003
"City By The Sea" commits what is, in my opinion, the worst cinematic sin of all: wasted potential. Even with a cast featuring Robert De Niro, Frances McDormand, and James Franco, this movie never quite gets off the ground. Or, to put it more accurately, it gets off the ground only to come crashing back to it as things wear on. The concept is promising enough: with his estranged junkie son on the run from a murder rap following a failed drug deal, De Niro's veteran homicide detective must try to bring him in safely while simultaneously facing up to his own shoddy record as a husband and father. This led me to expect an interesting take on the traditional cop fare, especially during the movie's admittedly strong first half. Set in New Jersey, "City By The Sea" is helped by the some great visuals of a decaying suburban landscape that perfectly augment its overall mood of despair.
The problem is, the people who made this movie don't know when to quit. This is the classic drama that tries too hard, becoming increasingly more earnest until it collapses under the weight of its own seriousness. One problem after another gets piled on the embattled De Niro, and it seems his principal response is to become ever more befuddled by his situation. With its combination of cop drama and family drama, "City By The Sea" takes on some serious subject matter, and it ends up becoming TOO serious, with nothing to lighten the emotional load on the audience, especially when the characters start speaking in sound bites and monologues. Even the occasional moments of humor found early on dissipate after a little while. The best and most entertaining thing about this movie is William Forsythe's mullet.
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on November 23, 2003
Starring Robert DiNiro, this film is based on a true story. It's about a cop, himself the son of a convicted murderer, whose junkie son is wanted for murder. That's the theme, although the facts of the case were changed in order to make the film play well to the largest possible audience. Even the location was changed. It's supposed to take place in Long Beach, New York, a place I'm somewhat familiar with. However, the setting didn't look at all like the Long Beach I know. It was only later that I found out it was shot in Asbury Park, New Jersey. It might seem like a small detail to those not familiar with the geography. But to me it sounded a discordant note throughout.
This is a good story though and it didn't matter that it wasn't authentic. It was well written, well paced and called for exellent actors. James Franco is cast as Joey, the drug-addict son. He made me feel disgusted with him as well as sorry for him all at once as I got caught up in his escalating predicament and his resultant terrors. He's a fine actor and I can see him as a rising star to watch. Patti LuPone plays his divorced mother. I could see she felt love for her son in spite of her anger and feelings of hopelessness. Frances McDormand plays DiNiro's girlfriend. She's a wonderful actress, and this is a small part for her. She plays it well though and I could feel her conflicting emotions as she is forced to deal with DiNiro's guilt and psychological burden. There's also Eliza Dushku as the young mother of Joey's child, George Dzunda as DiNiro's cop partner and William Forsythe as the bad guy. All are excellent. But the film belongs entirely to DiNiro, who is such a good actor that we tend to take his magnificent performances for granted. In this film I could forget he was acting and identify with this man who was trying to hide his feelings. His suffering comes through clearly and I could relate to him completely, especially in the scenes with his baby grandson.
This will probably be considered a small movie by the critics and not worthy of awards. It a way it seems like just another well-done episode from a cop show on television. The plot is predictable. There are some scenes worthy of a soap opera. And it's all done with a low budget. But I wasn't bored for a moment, there were tears in my eyes, and I found each of the characters so well developed that my heart went out to each of them. Don't discount this film. It's worth seeing.
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on November 3, 2003
Vincent LaMarca,otherwise the famous De Niro, is a respected homicide detective of NYC but soon he's faced with the toughest case ever. His son Joey, is involved in a murder and he's on the run - haunted by a gangster and law too. Who will be the first to catch him???
Vincent's life gets harder each day. At the same time he has to serve the law but also try to save his son from a crime he could have never committed!
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on October 10, 2003
Robert DeNiro and James Franco make this movie work, with son accused of killiing a cop and a father who wants to bring in his son alive and not dead. the end is washedout and leaves no suspense(when DeNiro gets shot in the back). but in the end is works out and its a great view. Eliza Dushku is great also as Franco's wife and McDormand is added nicely in as Franco's momma
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on September 25, 2003
This movie never really gets off the ground. In its effort to develop the characters, it moves at a snail's pace with no significant action. The whole mood of the movie is utterly depressive and the dialogue is monotone.
The plot involves Robert DeNiro playing a seasoned cop who starts investigating the homicide of a drug pusher. He soon finds that his estranged son in the prime suspect in the homicide and is brought back into the torments of his failed family life.
Yes, the movie does touch upon a failed father's attempt to show his son that he's looking out for him but, with that low-life heroin fiend son of his, you wonder: why? The son is portrayed as such a pathetic loser that the film simply evokes no sympathy for him. I came out feeling more for Robert DeNiro's character in having to accept his conception of such a pathetic wretch for a son.
Altogether a very forgettable film that perhaps would have been better as a book or one of those cheesy made-for-tv "Lifetime" films.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2003
The story is set in Long Beach(part of New York) known as the city by the sea. But now it's an unused left to waste zone riddled with drug addicts and criminals.
Raised in Long Beach, detective Vincent La Marca(De Niro) left his hometown for Manhattan to forget about his painful past were his own father was executed for a an awful kidnapping and now Vincents son is the main suspect in a street murder and Vincent is sadly the one assigned to hunt him down and bring him in.
Based on a disturbing true story, Robert De Niro(detective, Frances McDormand(detectives girlfriend not exwife) and talented newcomer James Franco(green goblin in Spiderman) deliver outstanding performances in this stunningly realised film.
The performance of the film was terrific, Robert De Niro acted very well as a detective. De Niro could really act how he felt in this emotional movie and Frances McDorman acted very good as De Niro's girlfriend, her body language was great and she expressed her feeling for De Niro very well. The main suprise in the film in my opinion is the acting by James Franco. I thought James Franco acted very well as a drug addict and he may have acted the best in this film. The scene i thought which had the best acting was the scene near the end where De Niro was being very emotional towards his own son. The ending shall be left a secret, it is there if you watch the movie. (highly recomended) 9/10
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