User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 56 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 49 out of 56
  2. Negative: 2 out of 56
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  1. NolanB.
    Oct 6, 2002
    4
    WHY DE NIRO?? WHY????
  2. PatC.
    Jan 13, 2004
    5
    It was thought-provoking, but would then expose those thoughts as irrelevant. One thought that got through is that sometimes fathers have to make hard choices.
  3. BobG.
    Sep 16, 2002
    6
    The movie is a little slow but has its moments. James Franco is clearly a star in the making, but there wasn't enough screen time for Frances McDormand. She's too good to play such a small role, and when she and DeNiro are in a scene together, it's a joy to watch.
  4. TommyL.
    Mar 19, 2003
    5
    Boring...nothing really wrong with the movie...just boring.
  5. SheriA.
    Oct 19, 2002
    6
    If you look up the word "plodding" in the dictionary, the poster for this movie will be right next to it. Some pretty good acting but a thin story and pacing that is way too slow.
  6. Feb 2, 2013
    4
    Imagine eating five or six pieces of toast as a meal, wouldn't you be left feeling like, "Is this it?!?" It isn't that there is anything wrong with toast, but piece after piece it wouldn't make for much of a meal in it of itself. In the same way, City by the Sea just didn't leave me satisfied. It wasn't that there was anything blaringly wrong with it, but it never presented any interestingImagine eating five or six pieces of toast as a meal, wouldn't you be left feeling like, "Is this it?!?" It isn't that there is anything wrong with toast, but piece after piece it wouldn't make for much of a meal in it of itself. In the same way, City by the Sea just didn't leave me satisfied. It wasn't that there was anything blaringly wrong with it, but it never presented any interesting flavors to savor; it just bored me. Things picked up later in the movie, and I did like the poignancy of the ending, but I just didn't think it was worth the wait to get there. The trailer makes it look like an edge of your seat thriller it is not. Expand
Metascore
50

Mixed or average reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 34
  2. Negative: 3 out of 34
  1. 40
    After the complex buildup of tensions, the last ten minutes of the movie are a comic-pathetic letdown: the subdued acting and the trash-strewn street scenes lead to nothing more striking than the kind of overexplicit clichés heard in mediocre TV dramas. Even De Niro's discipline and skill can't save lines that should never have been spoken in the first place. [9 September 2002, p.162]
  2. Frances McDormand and Patti LuPone are solid as his girlfriend and ex-wife, respectively, and James Franco is just right as his wayward son. They're a talented team. Too bad the movie doesn't live up to their abilities.
  3. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    50
    That City by the Sea isn't laughed off the screen is testament to Caton-Jones' attention to actors and to some tightly written scenes.