City By The Sea (2002)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

USA, 2002.  Franchise Pictures, Epsilon Motion Pictures, , Sea Breeze Productions Inc..  Screenplay by , based on the article Mark Of A Murderer by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , Michael Caton-Jones, , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Robert De Niro left wife and son years earlier in the now ghost town of Long Beach, moving to New York City and continuing his career as a cop. Years later, he is forced to face his past when it turns out that his now-grown, drug-addicted delinquent son (James Franco) is wanted in connection with a murder, the body of which washed up on De Niro’s shores. Unsure of whether or not he can actually fix the past, De Niro at least acknowledges the difficulty of his situation when he is forced to bare all his hidden secrets to his neighbour and girlfriend (Frances McDormand in a throwaway role) and take in the infant grandson he never knew he had. There’s action, tension and human drama aplenty in this moody little piece, but it has a lot of false moves that keep it from being great: the plot veers back and forth from gritty cop drama to melodrama and never decides where to settle, though the latter element is developed well and is sometimes quite touching. De Niro’s performance is a disappointment, going through the motions and seeming most of the time to be in a rush to get it over with and go home, and his mellow tone is at odds with Franco’s hyperdramatic (and also extremely fine) work. has a wonderful supporting bit as De Niro’s bitter and angry ex, and the photography looks terrific.

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