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City by the Sea Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 60

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal

    Notwithstanding a thin script and a color-by-numbers ending, the movie is redeemed by its solid performances.

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    It's a run-of-the-mill cop thriller but also a gripping family drama. It is in the moments spent untangling the threads of troubled relationships that the movie is at its best.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Against the backdrop represented by stark images of abandoned buildings and lost dreams, the tale that is City by the Sea emerges, with the power of the visual cues giving this film its forcefulness.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Moves along with a quietude, a scruffy direct plainness that has long gone out of style.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    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.

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  • See all City by the Sea reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

not for kids

Ambitious, improbable and very violent cop drama.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the movie has violence, including shooting and murder, graphic drug use, very strong language, and sexual references and situations, including a child born out of wedlock. Characters drink and smoke. There is a reference to domestic abuse. A character attempts suicide.

  • Families can talk about Vincent's statement that he doesn't like to have dinner at his partner's home because "You got a lot of love in your house and when I go there I feel uncomfortable." Different characters make reference to "the real me" or "the real you." What do they mean? How does the director use the burned-out landscape of Long Beach to tell us something about the characters?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Not an issue

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: Several shootings, references to spousal abuse.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Very brief offscreen reference.

  • language false5

    Language: Lots of bad language.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Drug references.