Slow Sailing into ‘City by the Sea’

If you are expecting “City by the Sea” to be an edge-of-your-sit-thriller, this film is not going to meet your expectations. At one point during the film, I found myself turning to a friend to complain about how bored I was. Not to say that the movie isn’t worth watching, but if you go in anticipating suspense you’ll be quite disappointed.

“City by the Sea” is a story based on real life events that surround a cop who must find his fugitive son in the city of Long Beach, N.Y. The central character in the drama is Vincent LaMarca, played by Robert DeNiro. DeNiro gives a great performance but can only do so much for the longwinded script. However, DeNiro gets a great deal of help to spice up the movie from his supporting cast, which is filled with names of known actors like Frances McDormand.

The breakout actor of the movie is definitely James Franco who you may know from other films like “Freaks and Geeks” or “The James Dean Story.” Franco throws himself into the role of Joey LaMarca, the drug addict son of Vincent, who is accused of murder. James Franco is definitely going to be an actor to watch in the future.

What makes each performance so great is the actor’s ability to make you believe they are the intended character. For example, Franco’s performance in “Spiderman” earlier this year was a complete 180 from this character. Also, DeNiro proves that he can do more than just a angry mobster. I give credit to the actors because they really get in the heads of their characters

The major sin of “City by the Sea” is not getting to the point fast enough. The plot takes forever to thicken and the audience knows the moral of the story before you are half way to the end. Another cause of the drag is the longwinded monologues, which make you wish that the characters would just shut up. For all the problems, there is a finger to point at who is to blame: the editor. If the editor had just snipped a few scenes here and cut some speeches there, this film would be able to live up to its potential thriller status.

For all its bad points, “City by the Sea” is worth your money, that is if you have it to spend. Otherwise, you should just wait for it to come out on video. The central moral of the story is that fathers do make a difference in how a child is raised. This is a very relevant issue considering the divorce rate is just over fifty percent. There are great collections of scenes which show father-son relationships in a very realistic way.

I do recommend “City by the Sea” for at least an outing with your parents. Perhaps it was a movie that was too mature for me. Maybe I would have rather seen “XXX” and been entertained without the heavy plot. But, then again, when is the next time I’m going to get to see Robert DeNiro with a mullet, even if it is just a short one?