City by the Sea
3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
the last suspect you want to see is your son Based on a true story, this is an involving film with very strong performances, but given the weight of the cast we are perhaps expecting something a bit more special than this.

Vincent LaMarca (DeNiro) is New York City detective who prefers to keep to himself; he even keeps his girlfriend (McDormand) at arm's length ... and she lives just downstairs! But his latest case takes a twist that's far too close to home, leading him and his partner (Dzundza) to his old hometown of Long Beach, a decaying seaside resort. The prime suspect is Vincent's junkie son (Franco), who is entangled with a drug dealer (Forsythe) and a single mother (Dushku) ... and who barely knows his father.

There's a lot more here, and it's the film's factual origins that make the story compelling ... because it's just too good to be fiction! The characters are all extremely complex and interesting people, and all are very well-played by the cast. That Franco can hold his own in his scenes with DeNiro is no mean feat, but then DeNiro is in muted, hollow-man mode (and starting to look and act rather a lot like Danny Aiello).

Caton-Jones directs with a nice sense of style--dark and grainy, gritty authenticity, real life bubbling under a suppressed, difficult surface. And the intricate connections between four generations of LaMarca men is unveiled with restraint and insight. And yet, it all ultimately feels like just another cop thriller, really, right down to the requisite showdown finale and a corny conclusion.

cert 15 themes, language, drugs, violence 16.Dec.02

dir Michael Caton-Jones
scr Ken Hixon
with Robert DeNiro, Frances McDormand, James Franco, Eliza Dushku, Anson Mount, William Forsythe, George Dzundza, Patti LuPone, Brian Tarantina, John Doman, Nestor Serrano, Cyrus Farmer
release US 6.Sep.02; UK 10.Jan.02
Warners
02/US 1h48

Don't shoot my son! Detective LaMarca protects his boy (Franco, Mount, DeNiro)...

shadows shadows
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... the last suspect you want to see is your son Laurie T, Minneapolis: "This is an okay movie - not great, but interesting. I really disliked the end where DeNiro is pleading with his son - I felt the script was too wordy, and somehow the way it all played out felt contrived and fake. It works out in the end, but I felt it could have arrived there by a better path." (14.Sep.02)

Michael, New York City: 3.5/5 "As a big fan of Robert DiNiro, the last 7 years or so had me dismayed. It seems that Hollywood had pigeonholed our generation's greatest actor with typecasted roles based on his Analyze This performance. So, it is with great pleasure that I welcome back Bobby D to the iconic status he deserves. Having known many NYPD men in my life and been a witness to their distance and pride, I found DiNiro's portrayal exacting and heartbreaking as the father to the sadder and helpless charactor, Joey, played by James Franco, whom you are not supposed to care about, but within 5 minutes of being in his shoes, you do. The scenes between these two are excellent, and I wish that this (true) story turned celluloid fiction recieved a better reception since it was released in what is usually the down time in movie release-dom (Sept). Each character is placed in positions we have all experienced, and each make mistakes we all have made. Coupled with the fact that even minor characters seem 3 dimensional, these performances excel as well, notably Frances McDormand, George Dznudza and Anson Mount." (15.Aug.04)

2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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