Sunday, April 11, 2010
City by the Sea
City by the Sea with Robert de Niro should perhaps be mandatory watching for all prospective fathers. The role of the father, especially for a boy, is so crucial that abandonment, as this film shows in painful realism, wreaks havoc with the life of the son left behind.
The story involves a detective in New York City (de Niro) who works on a murder case that eventually leads him to his own son, now a young man, whom he had abandoned long ago when he had divorced the boy’s mother. Left with a poor and demoralized woman, the son has since become a junkie, is in with a very wrong crowd, and is now, as the film opens, entrapped in a spiral of violence from which he is unlikely to escape.
What makes the film unforgettably poignant is its setting: Asbury Park, New Jersey (called Long Beach in the film), where the son roams the streets. Here at the boardwalk by the sea―where we would normally conjure up images of vacations, family fun, beautiful sunrises, sand, children playing, families frolicking and laughing in the water—here lies a nearly abandoned city. Once proud hotels reduced to ruins and gigantic boardwalk fun parlors scarily empty—the haunts of very lost children and the evil-doers that prey on them.
Such can be the inside of the child abandoned by a father.