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Look out for more coverage of
City by the Sea in our magazines

THE MOVIE: City by the Sea

Robert De Niro • James Franco • Frances McDormand
DIRECTOR: Michael Caton-Jones

James Franco and Robert De Niro THE CONCEPT:
Based on a true story.
City by the Sea tells the enthralling tale of a dedicated police detective, Vincent LaMarco (Robert De Niro), who discovers his estranged son Joey (James Franco) is the chief suspect in his current murder investigation.

U.S. RELEASE: September 6 2002 • Rated: R


“I wanted material that I could personally connect with. The first draft I read focused on the notion of a ‘murder gene,’ which didn’t interest me, but it was sitting right next door to a potentially great idea: that of the sins of the father being visited on the son.”

“Vincent basically gave up and, as a result, he lost his relationship with his son for a long period of time. In the end, they both suffered because of that.”

JAMES FRANCO on acting with De Niro:
“I took advantage of working with him and watching him any chance I could. I was playing his son, and it’s not as if I’d do an imitation of him, but I felt that maybe it would be good if there was a little something that shed off him onto me. I watched all of his films. What I learned from watching him is that even now after one of the greatest bodies of work that this country has produced, he’s still serious about his work, very focused.”

“Bob [De Niro] has incredible sympathy as a human being. As an actor, I think he’s the greatest of our generation, bar none. He has an immense ability to portray an emotion honestly. For the role of Joey, I needed to find someone who had both a youthfulness and a maturity and who wouldn’t be intimidated working with De Niro, and that was James Franco.”

“I found the story very interesting. It’s a realistic attempt to portray a guy’s life, including his dysfunctional, broken-up family, which is something that a lot of people can understand. Vincent has doubts about being a father because of what he went through as a result of his father’s crime. But as hard as he’s tried to atone for it by becoming a cop, he sees another generation coming along and continuing this negative cycle.”

“It’s always nice during one’s research to find somebody who has specific behavior you can model after. When I played James Dean, I had movies I could watch over and over. I don’t always find that in other subjects. I couldn’t find the real Joey DeMarco, even though I think he was incarcerated at the time. But there were a couple of guys in the [drug] treatment centers [where I did research] who I would return to and just be around. It wasn’t so much about talking to them about drugs; after awhile, it was just about talking to them and getting a feel for them.”

“The film takes place in a run-down seaside town that was once a well-heeled holiday resort close to New York City. That kind of dilapidated architecture really sets the tone of the movie.”

“Vincent hasn’t told his girlfriend Michelle [Frances McDormand] about the whole situation with his son. She doesn’t even know that he was once married. He doesn’t want to talk about it, doesn’t want to deal with it, and doesn’t want to make it her problem. He tries to put the pain of it out of his mind, until he’s suddenly faced with having to explain everything to her at once.”

“Parents have a great responsibility, because they are the single most powerful influence in their child’s life. If they aren’t there for them, there are serious consequences and sometimes lives are shattered.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official City by the Sea site
Images above © Warner Bros
Feature © 2002 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #622, September 2002 cover

For reviews and features about all kinds of films, read Film Review regularly.

Film Review, Special - Combat 2002 cover

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