If you’ve already found yourself on this site, then the likelihood you’re a lover of thrillers is high. Since you probably already enjoy being scared or seductively enticed by the screen, then you may also appreciate our loving look back at all the fabulous thrillers, (especially from the decade of the 90’s) that make the genre fun, even still.
With Quad Cinema in New York City’s West Village hosting it’s first Al Pacino retrospective, it seemed a fitting time to start the site by looking back at one of Pacino’s most provocative performances, also included in the two week screening with an appearance by the actor himself. Tickets to that are unfortunately already sold out, but not to other screenings. This means you can settle in for a bag of popcorn, play hooky from whatever responsibility you may have, and settle in for a showing of the campy thriller that is Sea of Love.
The movie stars Al Pacino as Frank Keller, a washed up cop, deep in the drink, and still reeling from a split with his wife, who just happened to leave him for a fellow cop. When a string of homicides leads him to the sexy, mysterious Ellen Barkin, his mundane life becomes filled with mystery, passion, singles ads (the mo of the killer) and sex. Lots of sex. Keller can’t help but be intrigued by his suspect, and with each clue, and murder plummeting him further towards the killer, he gets more deeply involved with both her and the case. Obviously he’s mixing business with pleasure, but it’s unclear whether he’s truly mixing danger with desire. On the other hand, in Sea of Love there is a very fine line between both those subjects.
Behind it all is a string of murders rooted in a record playing of the The Honeydrippers ballad Sea of Love, which plays in the background. Though we don’t know much about Barkin’s Helen Cruger, she certainly leaves a lot to the imagination. In a time when Sharon Stone’s sort of unclear homicidal tendencies made a thrilling impact on film, Sea of Love also plays off the idea of ambiguity. As the audience, we too, aren’t sure if we’re laying in bed with a killer, or someone deeply seeded in her own mysterious makings. Either way, it makes for a fun ride.
Similar to other films of the same time, like Michael Douglas’s Nick Curran in Basic Instinct, the male protagonist isn’t particularly likable or heroic. Ellen Barkin, while beautiful, and with a dangerous subtlety also doesn’t do much to convince us of innocence, or wickedness either way. And yet, the chemistry of these two souls brought together by circumstance is both thrilling and charismatic. Even if it does involve a cheesy courtship, supermarket scene. What winds up standing out is a story about two people. Underneath the gritty unknown of New York City, buried under death, loneliness, and lust, you can find love.
If this sounds like something to sink your teeth into (or revisit), head over to DVD Netflix to rent this 90’s thriller now. As both a lover of ACTUAL dvd’s, (and a DVD Nation ambassador) its my absolute favorite way to revisit old films, especially vintage thrillers like this one.