"'City by the Sea,' which is based on a magazine article by Michael McAlary (and thus on a true story), stumbles from restrained, fine-edged realism into blunt and muddy melodrama...As the dialogue turns tearful and speechy, the picture buckles under the weight of undigested significance, and the fine shadings of the performances are smudged as the actors are forced to explain feelings that the filmmakers apparently don't trust them to show...less like a movie than like the filmed reading of a script in need of polishing. --

A.O. Scott

"Ken Hixon's screenplay lays in the Arthur Miller bricks, but when father and son get together at last, facing each other one night at the beach, the writing falls apart. After the complex buildup of tensions, the last ten minutes of the movie are a comic-pathetic letdown...nothing more striking than the kind of overexplicit clichE`s heard in mediocre TV dramas." -- David Denby, The New Yorker

"De Niro plays Vincent with an insecurity, a deep-down squirmy shame, that we're not used to seeing from this actor in dramatic roles. It's one of his gentlest, most quietly affecting performances...'City by the Sea' moves along with a quietude, a scruffy direct plainness that has long gone out of style. At least, it has on the big screen." -- Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

"'City by the Sea' is a compendium of clichE`s about fathers and sons...One reason 'City by the Sea' is so inert despite all the hyperactive melodrama is that Vincent never breaks out of his own skin. He's a lumpen prole who suffers mostly in silence, and the role plays all too easily into De Niro's worst current habits. He's dulled himself out in the service of a phony kitchen-sink pseudo-realism. For De Niro, less has become less." -- Peter Rainer, New York

"...a murky, vaguely fact-based melodrama that quickly sinks into the same swamp as such recent De Niro mistakes as '15 Minutes' and 'Showtime'...Director Michael Caton-Jones relies far too much on dialogue--forgetting the first rule of movies: Don't tell me, show me." -- Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

"'City by the Sea' is not an extraordinary movie. In its workmanship it aspires not to be remarkable but to be well made, dependable, moving us because of the hurt in the hero's eyes. A better movie might have abandoned the crime paraphernalia and focused on the pain between the generations..." -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times