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USA 1989
Directed by
Harold Becker
112 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Sea Of Love

Having recovered from the disaster of his previous film, Hugh Hudson’s 1985 cinematic Hindenburg, Revolution, Al Pacino returns to home territory with this story of world weary New York City detective Frank Keller who is trying to track down a serial killer who finds victims by trawling the personal ads in a magazine. Believing the killer to be a woman, with the help of his partner (John Goodman) Frank sets a trap by placing his own ad and waits to see who turns up. But when Frank falls for a chief suspect, Helen Cruger (Ellen Barkin), he struggles to reconcile his personal and his professional commitments.

Refreshingly, the script by Richard Price who wrote the novel on which The Wanderers (1979) is based delivers Ellen Barkin (appropriately attired in a red leather jacket) quite early in the piece via a nicely constructed sequence of meeting/interviews in a restaurant and then plays with us as he does with Det. Keller, making Helen now seem to be the killer, now not. Frank falls hard for Helen and she seems to reciprocate, so much so that he loses all perspective and the resulting roller coaster ride of emotions Is engaging stuff.

Pacino is in his element, strung out and on edge, the kind of character that would became his over-familiar calling card whilst the not-conventionally-pretty Barkin, who made somewhat of speciality around that time of playing sexually-confronting characters is well cast as the potential killer. The genial Goodman, as a good-natured, family man provides a suitable foil to Pacino’s wired intensity.

If all this is eminently watchable the film doesn’t exactly play square in resolving the whodunit aspect and, as a kind of gear-shifting sop, opts for a final scene that wouldn’t be out of place in a Woody Allen movie. Until that point Sea of Love, if not breath-taking, is a reasonable effort all round.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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