“A CITY BY THE SEA” (2006)

NUTSHELL RECAP: “I can still hear the merry-go-round.”

Not necessarily a different type of role, but certainly one of Robert De Niro’s strongest. No one plays a beaten up, tired cop like this man. Even when you know that’s the character, De Niro manages to make it deep, intense and meaningful. This is a story about family, disjointed, decayed, living in between yesterday and today. Where Long Beach, New York was a bright, family summer beach retreat, is now a filthy, pestilent-ridden, addict hangout. Gone are the merry-go-rounds, cotton candy and innocence of the way life used to be. De Niro’s son, played very effectively by James Franco is a junkie, accused of killing a cop – De Niro’s partner. Now his own father must bring him in. That’s the premise, not the story. It’s about relationships and the need for family and one another in times of insanity. Nothing is more precious.

Director, Michael Caton-Jones uses Ken Hixon’s screenplay to the edge and has De Niro at this best. Frances McDormand is wonderfully targeted as the girlfriend who keeps getting hit with more of De Niro’s character’s baggage than a human should. She is quietly brilliant. James Franco looks perfectly sick and plays against De Niro with enough authority to carry his role.

Bottom Line – What else is there to say? This is a good solid film, with depth and emotion.