City by the Sea

  • 18
  • Michael Caton-Jones (2002)
  • US
  • 104 min
City by the Sea
Film Review
Reviewed By
3 out of 5

The director and star of This Boy's Life - Michael Caton-Jones and Robert De Niro, respectively - reunited for this performance-driven action drama. Based on Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mike McAlary's 1997 article for Esquire magazine, the movie is a poignant and powerful reflection on human weakness and the potential agonies of emotional attachment. De Niro plays Vincent LaMarca, a respected New York City homicide detective who is torn between familial and professional notions of duty when a drug dealer's murder is attributed to his estranged son, Joey (James Franco). Swapping his characteristic swagger for a shuffling, tortured vulnerability, De Niro delivers a fine, heart-rending performance. As his screen offspring's life disintegrates, so does he, becoming as weather-beaten and gloomy as the film's bleak locations. Though it is unquestionably De Niro's show, he benefits from some weighty support. Franco plays the resentful time bomb of a son to perfection, while Frances McDormand, as Vincent's intimacy-hungry girlfriend, adds a welcome feminine slant to the proceedings.

Plot Summary

Police drama based on a true story starring Robert De Niro, Frances McDormand and James Franco. Respected New York City homicide detective Vincent LaMarca and his son Joey have been estranged since Vincent's divorce. But when a drug dealer turns up dead with Joey the prime suspect, family grief and resentment come to a dramatic head.

Cast and crew


Lt Vincent LaMarca
Robert De Niro
Frances McDormand
Joey LaMarca
James Franco
Eliza Dushku
William Forsythe
Reg Duffy
George Dzundza
Patti LuPone
Dave Simon
Anson Mount


Michael Caton-Jones

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Warner Bros
Contains violence, swearing, sex scenes and drug abuse.
Available on video and DVD
Released 10 Jan 2003
Certificate 18