Sea of Love (1989) - Rotten Tomatoes

Sea of Love (1989)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

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


Al Pacino
as Det. Frank Keller
Ellen Barkin
as Helen Cruger
John Goodman
as Det. Sherman
William Hickey
as Frank Keller Sr.
Paul Calderon
as Serafino
Jacqueline Brookes
as Helen's Mother
John Spencer
as Lieutenant
Christine Estabrook
as Gina Gallagher
Barbara Baxley
as Miss Allen
Patricia Barry
as Older Woman
Michael O'Neill
as Raymond Brown
Luis Antonio Ramos
as Omar Maldonado
Rafael BŠez
as Efram Maldonado
Damien Leake
as Ernest Lee
Christofer de Oni
as Supermarket Manager
Dwayne McClary
as Supermarket Cashier
Thom Curley
as Toastmaster
Fred Sanders
as Cable Supervisor
Thomas Wagner
as Bartender
Manny Alfaro
as Doorman
Deborah Taylor
as Tense Woman
Nancy Beatty
as Raymond Brown's Wife
Bridget O'Sullivan
as Sherman's Wife
Delaney Moore-Wickha...
as Helen's Daughter
Franz Fridal
as Criminal Type
Ho Man Philip
as Karate Cop
Tony De Santis
as Clipboard Guy #1
Igor Stern
as Violinist
Mark Phelan
as Murdered Man
Gerald Lenton
as Murdered Man
Jackie Laidlaw
as Yuppie Detective #1
Paul Hubbard
as Yuppie Detective #2
Bill Haslett
as Surveillance Team Me...
James Kidnie
as Surveillance Team Me...
James O'Regan
as Hallway Cop
Wayne Best
as Hallway Cop
Hugh Thompson
as Young Cop
Lorraine Bracco
as Franks Ex-Wife (foot...
Hugh Thompson
as Young Cop
Brian Paul
as Mackey
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Sea of Love

Critic Reviews for Sea of Love

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (7)

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

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

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

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
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

Solid Pacino turn with Ellen Barkin giving strong assist.

January 10, 2009

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

Sea of Love Quotes

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– Submitted by Frances H (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Frances H (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Frances H (3 years ago)

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