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Sea of Love (1989)


Average Rating: 6.8/10
Reviews Counted: 25
Fresh: 19
Rotten: 6

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 5.8/10
Reviews Counted: 5
Fresh: 4
Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 15,398



Movie Info

Al Pacino as a veteran NYPD detective whose search for a serial killer yields a seductive suspect (Ellen Barkin). Sherman: John Goodman. Terry: Michael Rooker. Frank Sr.: William Hickey. Gruber: Richard Jenkins. Serafino: Paul Calderon. Miss Allen: Barbara Baxley. Directed by Harold Becker. Script by Richard Price.

R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Mystery & Suspense , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Richard Price
In Theaters:
May 26, 1998
MCA Universal Home Video


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Critic Reviews for Sea of Love

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (19) | Rotten (6) | DVD (5)

Efficient enough as a thriller, but what makes this mandatory viewing is the return of Pacino.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A lugubrious imitation of a second-rate television movie, over-produced and over-cast.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

What impressed me most in the film was the personal chemistry between Pacino and Barkin. There can be little doubt, at this point, that Barkin is one of the most intense and passionately convincing actresses now at work in American movies.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

A bluesy thriller with a clever though not overly complicated premise.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Price and director Harold Becker build in enough jumps and scares and good red herrings to be satisfying ...

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Solid Pacino turn with Ellen Barkin giving strong assist.

January 10, 2009

Sea of Love has its Cinemax lapses in taste, but most films of the genre lack sophistication from which to lapse.

Full Review… | May 11, 2003
Film Freak Central

Mediocre thriller with a good cast. I never want to hear that [expletive deleted] song again.

March 19, 2003

Superb, steamy thriller that keeps you guessing till the very end.

February 12, 2003
Sunday Times (Australia)

Marred by an implausible ending, 'Sea of Love' is still one Pacino's best vehicles.

December 17, 2002
Nitrate Online

More or less a popcorn thriller, but a good one of that.

September 20, 2002

The plot may have been intended to be clever but fails somehow to have anything very unexpected. There are problems in continuity, casting, and plotting.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000

In the end the picture is done in by its familiarity - anyone who has seen any cop movies or cop TV shows has seen most of "Sea of Love" too many times before.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Audience Reviews for Sea of Love

"in the style of Alfred Hitchcock"? "with ......... surprising plot twists"? I rather felt it as just another cop flick. The story is ordinary one and the execution isn't any great either. A few good moments is all. 1/5 (0.75 for the flick's casting & performances, and the rest for the rest).

familiar stranger

Super Reviewer


Al Pacino's lonely detective sets himself up as bait for a serial killer stalking newspaper dating ads and lands in the sack with slinky Ellen Barkin, commencing an effective game of nutjob-or-not? (as later ripped off by Basic Instinct).
Achingly '90s in tone with a sultry sax-heavy jazz soundtrack to boot, the whodunnit is greatly assisted by Pacino toning down the mugging, John Goodman being... John Goodman and Barkin scorching up the screen, skillfully avoiding that old style over substance adage.

Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

I can remember watching this on tv more than once growing up. Always liked it, but literally have not seen it since I was a teenager.
The story is that a killer has been targeting men who answer personals ads. Believing it could be a woman, cop Frank is sent undercover to meet some possible suspects by placing an ad himself. He is answered by Helen, and the two get involved.
I have to say, it pretty much holds up. The 80's hair and fashion is dated, but Ellen Barkin still looks attractive and really carries the movie in her is-she-psycho-or-isn't-she way. I don't know that Al Pacino and her ever entirely convince as a couple, and some of the sex scenes are more laughable than hot, but you can overlook it, as for the most part, both are good in their roles. Both lonely flawed people, with just a shadow of a doubt over Helen's sanity. You never entirely believe it could be her, but there's just enough coincidences to give pause.
Good suspense movie and some nostalgia to top it off. Could not ask for more!

Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer


Al Pacino attempted to save his career with the cop thriller Sea of Love which kicked the era of Pacino playing detectives into overdrive. Pacino plays Detective Frank Keller, a burnt out cop whose wife has left him leaving him lonely and drunk most of the time. His begins a homicide investigation into an almost execution style slaying in which the victim is found nude on the bed while a 45 rpm record of "Sea of Love" plays in the background. More murders pile up leading them to a personal column. Keller and his partner Sherman (John Goodman) go undercover by writing an ad and going on "dates" with numerous replies. It's on one of these "dates" that Keller meets Helen Cruger (Ellen Barkin) who develops a relationship with Keller and also slowly becomes the investigations chief suspect.

Sea of Love is your paint by numbers crime thriller. It's a predictable piece that, even though its characters are well defined and acted, tends to follow a treasure map to the prize at the end- the big reveal. The big reveal is satisfying and when you think about it actually makes sense (as opposed to other films of this ilk). Pacino gives us an OK performance. Certainly not his best, but it's been a lot worse. Barkin is great as the femme fatale, sexy with an attitude. John Goodman plays the sidekick without being the funnyman to Pacino's straight man. Overall this is a slightly above average film that delivers as promised just like the hundreds of other movies before and after it.

Chris Garman

Super Reviewer

Sea of Love Quotes

Frank Keller:
I'm everybody's Daddy.
– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)
Helen Cruger:
I always like to think I live for love. What else is there? Food?
– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)
Frank Keller:
No muss, no fuss. Evelyn Wood School of Speed Revenge.
– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)
Frank Keller:
[on the telephone with ex-wife late at night] Denise? I have to talk to you. I think I have appendicitis. [click]
– Submitted by Frances H (21 months ago)
Frank Keller:
Holy cow!
– Submitted by Gary S (3 years ago)

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