Sea of Love

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Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1989 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 108:13 minutes Other Extras Cast & Crew Biographies
Production Notes
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 4 Director Harold Becker

Columbia Tristar
Starring Al Pacino
Ellen Barkin
John Goodman
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Trevor Jones

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Yes (?Pan & Scan) MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 2.0 
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking  Yes
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No

Plot Synopsis

    Sea of Love is allegedly an erotic thriller starring Al Pacino as career cop Frank Keller who gets involved in the investigation of a serial killer, but who ends up sleeping with one of the prime suspects, Helen (Ellen Barkin). Assisting in the investigation (and in the sleeping) is John Goodman.

    To me, this rather formulaic erotic thriller was neither thrilling nor erotic, but rather a tired rehash of plots we have seen before. Al Pacino's Frank comes across as simply bad tempered and a bad loser, and I failed to be convinced that any woman would continue to see him after the way he continually mistreated Helen. One thing I will say in its favour however, is that the obligatory twist at the end was quite unexpected.

Transfer Quality


    This is an old-looking transfer. No effort has been made on restoration of the picture.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (4:3), which is modified from the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It appears to have been Panned & Scanned rather than transferred Open Matte, but in the absence of a correctly framed widescreen version, this remains unclear.

    The transfer was very grainy throughout, with subsequent loss of picture detail. Some of the scenes suffered from an excessively high black level, making them seem overbright compared with the rest of the movie. Shadow detail was very ordinary, with no details revealed in the considerable shadow of this movie. A small amount of low level noise marred the picture, but not badly so.

    The colours were somewhat washed out, though not to the extent that Twins suffered from.

    There were some MPEG artefacts seen in some of the backgrounds. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of marked amounts of aliasing during certain scenes. In particular, shots of a red brick wall were affected, as were shots of venetian blinds. There was some telecine wobble during the opening credits, but this was not too bad during the movie itself. Film artefacts were noticeably present.


    There are four audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, and Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded. You cannot select the audio tracks on the fly and must instead return to the main menu to change audio options.

    Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand, though a few phrases were hard to make out. There was a significant amount of hiss present at times on this soundtrack, which was quite distracting.

    There were no audio sync problems.

    The score by Trevor Jones is suited to the on-screen action, and aids in adding tension to the movie.

    The surround channel had limited use for music and for the occasional sound effect placed in the rear channel. Overall, it was not particularly enveloping.

    The .1 channel received some signal from my processor when music was playing but was otherwise dormant.


    Only a limited number of extras are present on this disc.

What's Missing / What's Extra

    The Region 1 version of this disc is identical to the Region 4 version of this disc.


    The menu design is unremarkable. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented at an aspect ratio of 4:3, and hence non-16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    These are well presented, and particularly easy to read.

Production Notes

    These are quite detailed and informative and are well worth the read, especially given that they, too, are easy to read.


    Sea of Love is worth a rental only.

    The video quality is dated.

    The audio quality is unremarkable.

    The extras are limited, but what is there is nicely presented.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
15th July 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 4:3 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer