SEA OF LOVE
Sea of Love is one of the most enjoyable films one has watched in some time. Everything about it works the stars, the script, the director it is one of the joys that manage to sneak out of the major studios despite the major studios. Pacino excels. The role is the same moody New York cop part that Pacino perfected in films like Serpico (1973) and Cruising (1980), only this time all of Pacinos interior moodiness has been replaced by a roughcast sensitivity and the film turned into a romantic thriller. Paired up against him, Ellen Barkin has a fierily sensual presence that sets the film smouldering one scene with she and Pacino seducing the other in a supermarket is incredibly provocative. The one other exceptional performance in the film indeed, one that often succeeds in stealing the film out from under Pacino and Barkin comes from John Goodman. Goodman is a marvellous comic performer, having a face that can tease and light up in mock impersonations with the pace of a Warner Brothers cartoon. Added to the big lug likeability of the character here, it becomes an exceptional performance the look of embarrassment on his face when Pacino catches him with Gina is memorable.
Indeed, the entire film is filled with memorable moments like these, scenes that do not advance the plot but act as wonderful little vignettes or character observations on their own the scenes near the beginning where the police drag criminals with outstanding warrants into a fake Meet the Yankees game; Al Pacinos face-off with the armed bodyguard; or his meetings with the various women in the restaurant and the look of hurt and betrayal on Barbara Baxleys face when she (intoxicatedly) walks out of the restaurant later on, having seen him with the other women.
It is a superb script. The elegance of the surprise twists and dramatic turns the way that suspicion regarding Ellen Barkin is drawn in then relaxed and then twisted around and intensified again is outstanding. In his subsequent films Malice (1993), Mercury Rising (1998) and Domestic Disturbance (2001) director Harold Becker has disappointed, invariably because the scripts have lacked the sophistication of the one here, the sole exception being City Hall (1996), where he again teamed with Al Pacino.
The film chooses its title exceedingly well, the song it derives from manages to doubly stand as a metaphor for the whole singles dating game the plot centers around. Tom Waitss craggy voiced rendition of the song over the end credits is absolutely superb.