City by the Sea (2002)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  6 September 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 20,776 users   Metascore: 50/100
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Vincent Lamarca, whose father was executed for a 1950s kidnapping of a child, grew up to become a police officer, only to see his own son become a murderer.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Maggie (as Patti Lupone)
Vanessa Hansen
Michael P. Moran ...


New York City homicide detective Vincent LaMarca has forged a long and distinguished career in law enforcement, making a name for himself as a man intensely committed to his work. But on his latest case, the stakes are higher for Vincent--the suspect he's investigating is his own son. He and Joey have been painfully estranged ever since Vincent divorced his wife and left the decaying boardwalks of Long Beach, Long Island for the anonymity of Manhattan and a successful career with the NYPD. He lives his life in solitude, keeping his girlfriend at arm's length; the closest relationship he maintains is with his partner, Reg--and Vincent makes sure that stops at the precinct door. As long as Vincent lives in the protection of the present, he doesn't have to deal with the pain of his past--or his sorrow over his broken relationship with Joey. But this murder investigation is drawing Vincent home to Long Beach, the self-proclaimed City by the Sea, where the past has been waiting for him to ... Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When you're searching for a killer... the last suspect you want to see is your son.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, drug use and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

6 September 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mark of a Murderer  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$8,935,426 (USA) (6 September 2002)


$566,358 (Brazil) (30 May 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Both Robert De Niro (Vincent LaMarca) and William Forsythe (Spyder) have played Al Capone on screen. De Niro in The Untouchables (1987) movie, and Forsythe in The Untouchables (1993) TV show. See more »


When Spider kicks in the bathroom door at the diner, the cameraman is reflected in the bathroom mirror. See more »


Spyder: [to Gina at the drive-thru speaker] I'll have a bacon cheeseburger and a blowjob.
See more »

Crazy Credits

This motion picture was not actually filmed in Long Beach, New York. See more »


Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »


Bullet From A Gun
Performed by Robbie A. Work and John Murphy
Written by Robbie A. Work and John Murphy
Courtesy of Chaos Music
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User Reviews

Gritty performances are the highlight.
23 August 2006 | by (Halifax, Nova Scotia) – See all my reviews

2002's 'City By the Sea' was a film that slipped by me when it first came out. I was living overseas and missed it completely. Having finally had a chance to watch it, I think it is the best film that Robert DeNiro has been in since 'Ronin' and up to 2006, his last great dramatic performance. He stars in 'City By the Sea' as the absentee father of James Franco. DeNiro is a decorated homicide cop who, while investigating a murder, finds uncomfortable evidence that concretely links his son to the murder. The film becomes a redemptive tale as DeNiro's character tries to make up for the damage of the lost years and save his son from a series of rapidly expanding catastrophes.

'City By the Sea' borrows from the noir tradition with a gritty locale, seedy characters and two male leads who have unlocked a series of events that are bigger than they are. DeNiro and Franco are both excellent here. Franco is tremendous for the entire film as a junkie who is trying (perhaps not very hard) to escape from his current life for one mixed of fantasy and memory. His final scenes with De Niro are powerful.

The DeNiro performance? I think that he played it perfectly. His character in the film tends to be very restrained and controlled. He analyzes and then makes his move. Part of this has to do with the background of the character. He hides his past because he's trying to protect his own vulnerabilities. By the time we reach the climactic scene towards the end of the film with his son, the restraint and control are gone. He is trying to save his son and the impassioned speech he gives is some of the best work I've seen him do. 'City By the Sea' is more of a redemptive drama than a crime drama and I think that the way the film was packaged and marketed may have confused that. In the climactic scene with Franco, you see the culmination of a great performance by a great actor. I was more impressed by the emotion and power of that scene than I was by anything else I've watched in quite a while.

'City By the Sea' is slow, but worth the journey. Very good acting all around and you might very well be a James Franco fan after seeing this if you weren't before.

27 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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