"Father’s Pain, Son’s Shame"
In CITY BY THE SEA, New York Detective Vincent LaMarca must deal with the shame of his past, as the shame of the present is forced upon him, namely that his drug-addicted son has murdered someone and must be brought to justice. Too much strong street language mars an otherwise fascinating portrayal of the biblical principle of generational sins being passed to offspring.
CITY BY THE SEA caught me by surprise. Initially I thought, “Gee, another “DeNiro- kill-them-all-let-God-sort-them-out, ‘are you talking to me?’” gritty, big-city drama. Well it is that . . . but much more.
Robert DeNiro is Detective Vincent LaMarca, an aging, well-respected New York detective who lives alone, regularly dates a neighbor, Michelle (Frances McDormand), cooks his own meals, and works. All is fine until one day, in a decaying New York beach town, Long Beach, a junkie stabs to death a pusher and throws his body in the river. An awful, yet not uncommon crime . . . until the killer turns out to be Vincent’s estranged son, Joey!
This would be difficult enough for LaMarca, except that he grew up in Long Beach and lived a life of shame because his father had been executed for a crime he committed when Vincent was a child. LaMarca’s marriage to Joey’s mother crumbled, and, when he was charged with wife abuse and not allowed to spend time alone with his son (Joey), he left and never looked back. Of course he has never told his girlfriend, Michelle, of his family’s past. When he tells her the entire story, the supportive Michelle must decide if she likes the man who has finally revealed his past to her.
To make matters even worse, Joey is accused of killing a detective (Vincent’s partner), who went to arrest him. Now an angry pusher is out to kill Joey for killing his man, the dealer, and the police, who believe he is a cop killer, have blood in their eyes!
So what caught me by surprise? The believable way director Canton-Jones reveals the interwoven pain of these lives. The action fades into the background as the viewer is drawn into the life of the tortured men, hoping they can somehow overcome their demons and get a second chance at life and family. The ending is warm and hope-filled without being too sappy.
If it were not for the many profanities and obscenities, violent themes, and drug use, the R-rated CITY BY THE SEA would be accessible to a much wider audience. It is a shame it had to be framed that way. The other objectionable part is where the local Christian business owner tries to do right by Joey but is later threatened by the older LaMarca and told, “Cut the Friar Tuck act!” when he suggests “peace” to the man.
(BB, C, Ab, LLL, VV, A, DD, M) Biblical worldview showing accurate portrayals of generational sin patterns and need for “the hearts of the fathers to return to their children”; mild anti-biblical outlook when Christian told to “stop the Friar Tuck act”; strong language with about 30 “f” words and 12 other obscenities and profanities; strong violence includes stabbing and shooting murder; sex implied but not shown; no nudity; alcohol; smoking and drugs; and, lying and stealing.
In CITY BY THE SEA, Robert DeNiro is Vincent LaMarca, a well-respected New York detective who lives alone, dates his neighbor, Michelle (Frances McDormand), cooks his own meals, and works. One day in a decaying New York beach town, a junkie stabs to death a pusher and throws his body in the river. An awful, yet not uncommon crime . . . until the killer turns out to be Vincent’s estranged son, Joey! It turns out that Vincent has his own personal demons, including his own father, who was executed for a crime he committed when Vincent was a child. Things go from bad to worse when Joey is accused of killing a detective, Vincent’s partner, who went to arrest him. Now, both the drug kingpin and the police are out for Joey.
Director Michael Canton-Jones skillfully draws the viewer into the lives of these tormented men, who hope to somehow overcome their demons and get a second chance at life and family. The ending is warm and hope-filled. If it were not for the many profanities and obscenities, violent themes, and drug use, this R-rated movie would be accessible to a much wider audience.