Sea of Love is directed by Harold Becker and written by Richard Price. It stars Al Pacino, Ellen Barkin, John Goodman, Michael Rooker and William Hickey. Music is by Trevor Jones and Ronnie Taylor is the cinematographer. Plot has Pacino as New York Police Detective Frank Keller, a borderline alcoholic and lonely after his wife left him for one of his colleagues. Tracking a serial killer of men, an investigation set-up leads him to date a number of women with the idea of obtaining forensic evidence off of the wine glasses. One of these women is sultry blonde, Helen Cruger (Barkin), who Frank starts to have a passionate relationship with...
The erotic thriller is a tough premise to get right on film, so many elements have to fall in to place for the film to win over critics and film goers alike. Chemistry of lead cast members, a gripping plot, plausible outcome, and so on. Too many over the years have failed miserably at it, resorting to either gratuitous tactics or simple star casting to entice the paying public in to the theatre. Sea of Love is not a complete success, but it's certainly one of the best of its type. Were it not for a weak murder motive that's not fully explored, resulting in something of an unsatisfying finale, we would probably be talking about Sea of Love being the template movie for the erotic thriller.
All else that leads up to the last 15 minutes is sizzling, Barkin and Pacino spark in every scene they share, where even with the sex scenes, the fact that Barkin towers over Pacino doesn't detract from the sexual chemistry, it adds to it. It's smart, too, that we don't see Barkin for the first third of the movie, the anticipation builds up and thankfully upon arriving into the picture she doesn't disappoint. Goodman is ebullient and makes a good foil for Pacino's haggard life sucks act, his Sherman an easy to get on side with character.
The guessing game at the heart of the plot is well handled by the makers, there's no stupid giveaways or overkill of red herrings, while the edgy lonely hearts basis for both the killings and the investigative trap is nicely written by Richard Price. Fusing both loneliness and sexual needs together as one, Becker is able to get much emotional mileage out of the story. If only the ending could have made good on the promise shown. Come the last 15 minutes the "is she or isn't she the killer?" factor has run out of steam, with what follows inducing cries of "oh, is that it?"- instead of- "oh my god!". Damn shame that. 7.5/10