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4.4 out of 5 stars68
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Sea of Love is certainly a better than average steamy crime thriller, but it didn't really bowl me over. Pacino's very good, of course, and Ellen Barkin more than holds her own against him, but Pacino's character can become tiresome after a while, and what I regard as a pretty sizeable red herring thrown into your lap midway through the story makes the ending a little less dramatic. I'm not saying the mystery is predictable – it's just not that shocking of a surprise.
Frank Keller (Al Pacino) isn't exactly Steve McGarrett material when it comes to his career as a detective, mainly because the guy is basically pretty pathetic. His wife left him for another detective on the force, and he's not handling that very well – drunken calls in the middle of the night to his ex-wife are not uncommon. The guy drinks like a fish all day and all night, whether he's on duty or not, he gets into serious shoving matches with other cops, and he spends more time getting under the skin of his fellow detective (and ex-wife's new man) than investigating the crime at the scene of the film's opening murder. Later on, he gets into a serious relationship with one of the murder suspects, which has to break a lot of rules in the old code of conduct. About all he gleans from the first murder is the fact that someone plugged a fat naked guy in the back of his head and that the killer was apparently a big fan of the song Sea of Love. Fortunately for him, a Queens detective (played by John Goodman) working on a similar case teams up with him on a two-man task force to find the mutual killer. The common thread linking the murders together is the fact that each victim had recently placed a poetic personal ad in the newspaper. Since no one seems to have bothered looking at any of the evidence too closely, Keller and Detective Sherman (Goodman) decide to place a similar ad in the paper, meet all of the women who respond, get their prints and compare them with those found at the murder scenes, and break the case wide open.
Keller meets Helen (Ellen Barkin) at one of these undercover dates. She blows him off early on, before she even comes close to leaving a fingerprint on anything. When they meet accidentally soon thereafter, though, a spark is lit, and the two are lovers before you can say Jack Sprat. Frank puts his feelings for Helen above his job, thereby leaving Helen hanging out there as a possible murder suspect. This is where all of the suspense comes in; is she or isn't she? The story zigs and zags both ways on the question, leaving the viewer in a measure of doubt until the very end. The whole thing turns into a weird love story for the most part, with Frank trying to avoid losing Helen even as he sometimes wonders whether she's the killer he's looking for. It is quite suspenseful, largely thanks to Ellen Barkin's very strong performance. The ultimate ending's a little weak, but that takes nothing at all away from the sustained mystery that will command your rapt attention all the way up to that point.
It's not hard to see why the movie was so successful. It just goes to show what good acting and a reasonably strong script can do for a movie. There are probably two camps when it comes to the ending, I should note – but it's not a hate it or love it thing. Some will not find it all that surprising, while others may feel as if it comes right out of left field. Either way, Sea of Love is a film that all fans of steamy thrillers can lose themselves in and, at the very least, come out feeling reasonably satisfied.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 June 2014
I bought this on VHS firstly then later DVD (another accidental rental viewing), normally a Pacino film is hugely followed, but this has escaped the attention of many fans for some reason. Which is a shame as the film is really very good.

Al Pacino plays homicide detective Frank Keller, who is investigating a series of unusual killings. The victims are always face down on the bed, male, naked and with a record playing "sea of love". Keller teams up with Detective Sherman Touhey (John Goodman) from another district to try to track down the killer as more victims turn up. Eventually they work out that the men who are murdered all placed personal ads in the lonely hearts local paper columns, they try to catch the killer placing their own ads in the paper.

However the story takes a nice twist from that to it's eventual conclusion (which I won't spoil) Keller also develops a love interest in the form of Helen Cruger (Ellen Barkin) a recently divorced woman whom has a hot/cold relationship with.

Acting is solid as ever from Pacino (yes he has his temper moments as per his usual trademark, but I like it all the same) Goodman injects some nice humour in places too, and Ellen Barkin is convincing as the hard to handle girlfriend. Story wise I like it, nice twist at the end. Maybe it doesn't take lots of repeated viewings (once the story is known it does lose some impact) But still an overlooked "good" thriller that deserving of a watch. Maybe not quite the 5 star film, it's not far off it though.
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on 2 March 2003
When Al Pacino, one of the greatest actors of our time, decided to return to movies after a long self imposed absence, he chose this Harold Becker thriller and simply exploded back into American cinema. A moody, pulsating score, a lonely city at night atmosphere, and the sexy Ellen Barkin helped to create an erotic and suspenseful thriller like no other.
Someone is placing personals and killing men, leaving the old '45 "Sea of Love" playing at every murder scene. Pacino and his partner John Goodman decide to place their own personal and meet women, hoping one will be the killer. In steps Barkin, a single mom hotter and sexier than origional sin. Pacino doesn't follow procedure and can't eliminate Barkin as a suspect who answers the ad and we spend the rest of the film wondering if this mistake will cost him his life.

A lot of this film is about mistrust and suspicion, and a very messed up Pacino, desperately lonely and trying to move on from his divorce. Barkin is dynamite, but may also be the killer. When Pacino discovers all the victims knew Barkin, things get evermore dangerous. In addition to the electricity between the two leads there is also a fine script and great support from minor players to create one of the most nail biting thrill rides of all time.

One of the most erotic scenes in screen history takes place in a supermarket late at night as Sade's band instrumental "Siempre Hay Esperanza" from her Stronger Than Pride album plays sexily in the background. An exciting and shocking ending add to an already terrific thriller, making this a film you just have to own.
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on 8 March 2004
From the opening scene - in which you see the 45 of 'Sea Of Love' playing and the first shooting - this film has you waiting and wondering just what will happen next.
Up steps Pacino in an almost typical down and out portrayal of a cop who just cannot accept things at face value, a sort of Columbo with style!
Falling for a potential suspect - the very sexy Ellen Barkin - seems an almost inevitable outcome from the moment you meet her, but it's the chemistry between the two, in bad times as well as good, that crackles across the screen and makes you sympathise with both characters.
Throughout the film, you start to suspect almost everybody, and even though you're half expecting someone to attempt to kill Pacino, it sill makes you jump out of your seat when it finally materialises!
And this film also has the best stand up sex scene in history as Pacino alternates between believing Barkin to be the killer to feeling compassion for her in the only way he can demonstrate!
Pacino is simply awesome in this role, whilst Barkin shows that she has a talent that has never truly blossomed. When she actually finds out that Pacino is a cop and that he's been using her, her expression would make you believe that she hadn't read the script and that she was really fooled!
There have been many other great Pacino performances, many of them giving him huge plaudits, but for me this is his finest of all. Absolutely sensational.
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on 5 May 2013
Bought this as i am a big Pacino fan. Had seen it before on television a few years back and remembered liking it, so decided to buy it on blue-ray.

The plot consists of two new york city cops (Pacino and Goodman) trying to track down a serial killer who seems to choose victims from lonely hearts columns. Added to this is Pacino's involvement with one of the suspects (Ellen Barkin) which provides much of the film's tension and eroticism e.g. is she or is she not the killer. The film builds pretty well and its only the ending which disappoints a bit.

Al Pacino is very good as always and John Goodman is a standout, Ellen Barkin also does a good job as Pacino's love interest.

The picture on the Blue-ray is good but there are no extras which was a bit of a disappointment, it would have been nice to see a documentary or heard a commentary. The film is very good though and i would recommend it to anyone who likes Al Pacino or likes this type of film.
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on 12 November 2012
Blu-Ray picture quality is definitely better than the already good Dvd picture quality.
Audio (in both formats) sounds fine to my ears.
Blu-Ray is Vanilla, Dvd has a commentary,Featurette,Deleted Scenes and Trailer.
Well Worth upgrading to Blu-Ray, for those upgrading just add an Amaray swing tray to the Blu Case for old Dvd and you have the extras.
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Seems to me 1989's "Sea of Love,", like the late Rodney Dangerfield, seldom gets the respect it deserves. It's generally mentioned in the same paragraph as those other terrific 1980's romantic thrillers: Against All Odds ,Year of Living Dangerously ,Tequila Sunrise,The Big Easy,Body Heat ,Body Double, and, if you insist, No Way Out. But SEA has its own particular strengths.

For starters, the smart script is by Richard Price, New York bred and buttered, with lots of street cred. Someone on Internet Movie Database states Price was writing this script for Dustin Hoffman, who demanded too many rewrites, so Price gave it to Al Pacino, another New York actor. At any rate, Price had burst into print with The Wanderers, a novel about young New York gang members, while still a young man. He really gets New York down on his pages, and also in his scripts: this is a real New York, New York movie. It was produced by Martin Bregman and directed by Harold Becker; they undoubtedly add to the richness of the city we see on screen.

In its broad outlines, the script is original. Some of the subplots are the usual cop shop stuff that should have been retired by now: the jaded, burnt-out cop looking to retirement; the second generation cop looking to live up to the first; the cop's partner who steals the wife. But the plotting's tight, the ending's unexpected, and the movie's very well acted. Al Pacino Dog Day Afternoon  stars, giving us another New York cop, Frank Keller, who's investigating a serial killer. Ellen Barkin, THE BIG EASY, at her most sexy and beautiful, plays the number one suspect and love interest. Their love scenes really could scorch the screen.

This movie of the same name, made 30 years later, evidently uses "Sea of Love," an evergreen rock and roll hit, as a theme. The song was written by New Orleans native John Phillip Baptiste, AKA Phil Phillips, who had a hit with it on its first release in 1959. John Goodman (The Big Lebowski) brings a lot to this movie: he ably supports the stars, when they've got their clothes on, playing Pacino's new cop partner Sherman Touhey. And when the Missouri-born Goodman delivers an "a capella" version of "Sea of Love," in that New Orleans accent he's entitled to use, well, he just stops the show.

This movie has great New York ambiance, a good plot, good acting, a good sound track, Ellen Barkin at her most gorgeous, hot sex scenes, and touches of humor. It stands up to repeated viewings, and like Mr. Dangerfield, it deserves some respect.
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Al Pacino hadn't made a film for four years, so this was a kind of comeback, and he hasn't looked back since.
What a comeback. And what a cast along with him: Ellen Barkin at her most knockout gorgeous, mighty John Goodman as an affable sidekick, with Michael Rooker and Richard Jenkins both superb, and even a pre-West Wing John Spencer in a small role.
Al was 49 when he made this, and he looks at least ten years younger. Barkin was a still young-looking 35. Their chemistry (in both senses) is, luckily, palpable, with Al in his sexiest role to date and Ellen burning up the screen.
It's a good if flimsy plot too, though the film is as much if not more about Pacino's booze-reliant cop Frank (why are so many US film characters called Frank?) and his sensual but brittle relationship with Barkin's possible murder suspect, Helen. Al acts his big heart out and looks like he's glad to be back on the set.
This was the fresh beginning of Pacino's ongoing rise to be arguably America's greatest living film actor, whereas Barkin fell off the radar after a while, which is our sad loss, as she's always been one of the most watchable and attractively offbeat actresses around.
Richard Price's screenplay is characteristically excellent and Harold Becker directs with moody flair.
Tom Waits sings the title song over the closing credits, and it feels like the cherry on a richly satisfying cake.

One of the most entertaining cop movies of its era, and a great romance too.
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on 6 April 2003
AL Pacino (Quickly becoming my favourite actor), plays Frank Keller, a divorced cop who has to find a killer who is killing men in their bedrooms and are found naked. Al Pacino goes undercover with partner John Goodman to find the killer when Al Pacino starts dating a Suspect.
This film has many twists and turns and leads you into believing something that turns out in the end to be completely wrong.
Pacino gives a brilliant performance as the desperate but witty cop and has produced a underated classic.
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on 7 December 2015
I love this movie chiefly because of the seductive, thrilling presence of Ellen Barkin. Al Pacino et al are all excellent in their roles, superb direction by Harold Becker. But it's Richard Price's earthy, ultra streetwise script that makes it all real. I adore the incidents of relationship faux pas, making it messy, thereby real. All these lonely characters are damaged, looking for love, putting themselves in danger in pursuit of long-lasting love. This movie fully deserves five stars. I still get a glowing warmth when I watch the much missed William Hickey drunkenly recite the love poem Frank's mother wrote...Beautifully messy and human. The dvd transfer picture quality is great for an 1989 movie, making the dark of the night scenes really throw dramatic shadows. The red lights on the cars pop out crisply. However, the only downer is this version's apparent exclusion of the armed bodyguard scene near the beginning. I've looked but I can't find it, you can glimpse it in the trailer and it remains in the old tv version. Overall, this movie is an unmissable classic.
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