Sea of Love (1989)
Sea of Love is a sexy, atmospheric thriller, very much in the style of Alfred Hitchcock, with involving characters, steamy love scenes, and surprising plot twists. Frank Keller (Al Pacino), is a lonely, tired, disillusioned, police detective, who has a problem with alcohol. Frank is investigating a serial killer, whom he believes finds victims by using personal ads in magazines, killing them while playing the old record "Sea of Love." In a scene both amusing and touching, Frank and his partner, Sherman (John Goodman) --aided by Frank's father (William Hickey in a lovely cameo) place a personal ad, hoping to lure the killer. Helen Cruger (Ellen Barkin), a tough, sexy single mother answers the ad and begins an affair with Frank, despite the fact that she is one of the prime suspects in the case. The suspense builds as Frank, though deeply drawn to Helen, becomes more and more suspicious of her. In a splendidly crafted script from Richard Price, the plot is compelling, with plenty of action, terrific authentic dialogue and superb characterization. Ellen Barkin gives a marvelous performance as an independent, sensual and intriguing femme fatale; John Goodman is excellent as Sherman, giving a likable, shrewd, and subtly comic performance; and Pacino, in perhaps his best performance since Dog Day Afternoon, plays Frank as a man on the edge, reckless and self-destructive, lost and alone. Frank falls in love with Helen, in spite of himself, because of his loneliness and need. Pacino's skill in showing the vulnerability and neediness of Frank explains the somewhat implausible actions of his character in continuing their affair despite the mounting evidence against Helen. Harold Becker directs with great flair, bringing the story believability, without lapsing into false sentimentality. … More
Related News & Features
Production Wraps on Roth's "Freedomland"
– Rotten Tomatoes
No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.Login
Critic Reviews for Sea of Love
Efficient enough as a thriller, but what makes this mandatory viewing is the return of Pacino.
A lugubrious imitation of a second-rate television movie, over-produced and over-cast.
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.
A bluesy thriller with a clever though not overly complicated premise.
Price and director Harold Becker build in enough jumps and scares and good red herrings to be satisfying ...
Solid Pacino turn with Ellen Barkin giving strong assist.
Sea of Love has its Cinemax lapses in taste, but most films of the genre lack sophistication from which to lapse.
Mediocre thriller with a good cast. I never want to hear that [expletive deleted] song again.
Superb, steamy thriller that keeps you guessing till the very end.
Marred by an implausible ending, 'Sea of Love' is still one Pacino's best vehicles.
More or less a popcorn thriller, but a good one of that.
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.
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).More
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.
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!
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.
Sea of Love Quotes
- Frank Keller:
- I'm everybody's Daddy.
- Helen Cruger:
- I always like to think I live for love. What else is there? Food?
- Frank Keller:
- No muss, no fuss. Evelyn Wood School of Speed Revenge.
- Frank Keller:
- [on the telephone with ex-wife late at night] Denise? I have to talk to you. I think I have appendicitis. [click]
- Frank Keller:
- Holy cow!
Discuss Sea of Love on our Movie forum!