It seems almost boring to review an Al Pacino film and praise his performance, but in Sea of Love he once again shows why he has a reasonable claim to the title of greatest living actor.
To say this is neither his best performance nor his best film is only to emphasise the quality of his output. This is a very enjoyable detective thriller, ingeniously interwoven with a love story. It’s not the usual shoehorned romantic subplot, neither is it the tokenistic girlfriend who’s there to be threatened in the final act, or the long-suffering wife archetype of many other crime films.
No, Sea of Love has a plot that is driven by the relationship of Pacino’s character, Frank, with Helen (Ellen Barkin), in a way that is crucial to the film but also avoids most of the heavily-worn romantic movie tropes that could have ruined this.
The reason it’s not his best is, I suppose, because it feels too much like a lot of other thrillers and whodunnits with not enough to make it stand out from the crowd But it’s still compulsory viewing for Pacinuts, succeeding in being as enjoyable as it is intriguing. Also, a (relatively) young Samuel L Jackson pops up in the first ten minutes of the film. What’s not to love?