Sea of Love (1989)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

In this thriller, Al Pacino stars as Frank Keller, an alcoholic policeman in the depths of middle-age crisis. Frank begins investigating a serial killer who finds her victims through the personal ads and kills them while the song "Sea of Love" plays on the stereo. Responding to one of the ads, Frank finds himself falling in love with the sultry blonde Helen (Ellen Barkin), who happens to be the most likely suspect. Aside from Richard Price's crackling script, one of the most remarkable things about Sea of Love is Pacino's riveting performance. It was the first in many years to gain considerable critical acclaim and box office success, making the movie instrumental in his comeback in the late '80s and early '90s. Pacino doesn't over-act in Sea of Love, which gives its tense story more suspense, and helps make the somewhat far-fetched plot believable.
R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
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
Larry Joshua
as Dargan
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 Báez
as Efram Maldonado
Samuel L. Jackson
as Black Guy
Damien Leake
as Ernest Lee
Joshua Nelson
as Willie
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-Wickham
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 Member
James O'Regan
as Hallway Cop
James Kidnie
as Surveillance Team Member
Wayne Best
as Hallway Cop
Hugh Thompson
as Young Cop
Lorraine Bracco
as Franks Ex-Wife (footage added for TV)
Hugh Thompson
as Young Cop
Brian Paul
as Mackey
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Sea of Love

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (5)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | December 17, 2008
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | June 23, 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

No excerpt available.

June 5, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

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
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
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
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

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