No it’s not about Trump’s inauguration day.
Sea of Love is a pretty standard whodunnit with Al Pacino, which he made after his four-year break from filmmaking that followed the big flop that was Revolution. He’s a homicide detective whose wife has left him for one of his fellow officers, he has an alcohol problem, and he’s suffering depression as his twentieth year on the force looms. However, when he is handed a murder case centred on a victim who was shot while naked in his bed listening to a seven-inch of the Phil Philipps version of “Sea of Love.”
A second person dies, and Pacino character finds out that both victims had recently placed advertisements in the lonely hearts column of the local newspaper. Pacino and his colleagues come up with a strategy to place ads and pose as potential victims in order to catch the killer. He soon gets involved with one of the suspects, played by Ellen Barkin.
Pacino puts in a good performance, but it’s not on a par with his earlier work. He had done some stage work during his break from filmmaking, including Shakespeare and Mamet. The film has an excellent supporting cast, including Barkin, an actress who has never really gotten her due, featuring John Goodman as another detective, and Richard Jenkins as the colleague who married Pacino’s wife. Jenkins has done a lot of fine supporting roles over the years but only recently gotten leading roles or big film parts. It also features Michael Rooker in a menacing part that might represent a bit of typecasting, and Samuel L. Jackson as the imaginatively named “Black Guy.”
The film is helped by the fact that it’s written by Richard Price, a very well-respected writer of gritty realist stories about urban America, most notably New York, including the semi-autobiographical The Wanderers and Clockers. The plot moves along at a strong pace and delivers the goods. Price is still working, having recently written the celebrated HBO mini-series The Night Of. The film also notably ends with a cover of the title song by non-other than the always wonderful Tom Waits.
There are no bonuses on the disc, but it’s a film that’s worth checking out – a solid police procedural that’s better than a lot of things Pacino did later on.