The Prince of Tides (1991)
Directed by Barbra Streisand
Written by Pat Conroy and Becky Johnston
Based on the 1986 novel The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Starring: Nick Nolte, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, George Carlin, Kate Nelligan
Tom Wingo (Nolte) is a troubled man with a haunting family history. When his sister attempts to kill herself, Tom goes to New York to attend to her. While there, Tom begins to work with his sister’s psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein (Streisand), on understanding her childhood. As they delve into the past, Tom begins to uncover his own demons. As the two work together, Susan and Tom begin a relationship that goes beyond anything either of them expected. Now they’re working together to help Tom’s sister, and they’re also seeking a way to understand their own relationship.
This movie was a surprise hit in 1991, earning critical acclaim and box office success. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Writing, Best Art Direction, and Best Music. The movie was based on the novel of the same name by author Pat Conroy (The Lords of Discipline). Conroy later assisted Becky Johnston (Seven Years in Tibet) in writing the screenplay. The film was directed by Barbra Streisand (The Guilt Trip), who also starred in the film opposite Nick Nolte (Warrior). The cast also features Blythe Danner (Meet the Parents), George Carlin (Dogma), and Kate Nelligan (The Cider House Rules).
This story is an excellent examination of the complications that come with abuse during childhood. Despite the gritty nature of the history of the characters, the film seems to avoid wallowing in the painful moments. Instead, the movie finds focus in the healing that can sometimes come despite the trauma that’s been experienced. The characters are nicely complicated and the dialogue allows for the emotion to flow throughout this one. The writing also doesn’t back away from the nastier moments of the movie, allowing this to feel honest. Overall, this is an interesting story that works nicely. Any weakness comes from the constant focus on the personal troubles of the characters. Without much in the way of comedic relief, this can be a tough film to get through.
The acting in this one is strong from all of the main characters. Nick Nolte would earn an Oscar nomination for his role in the movie. His performance is emotional, and very powerful throughout the movie. Nolte also did a great job working opposite Barbra Streisand. The chemistry between their characters is strong and seems to develop naturally. Streisand delivers one of the more interesting roles in her acting career in this one. She does a great job with the complicated character she plays. In addition to these two great actors, Kate Nelligan was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress. She plays a character that has a lot of emotional baggage, and the nomination was well-deserved. Overall, this is a nicely acted film that features some great performances from the stars.
The rest of the technical aspects of this movie are nicely handled. The nomination for Best Cinematography was earned thanks to great work from cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt. The story is told through a series of current events and flashbacks, both of which have their own unique styling to them that works nicely. In addition, the sets were designed perfectly, letting each era come to life nicely. That work was done by Paul Sylbert (Heaven Can Wait) and Caryl Heller (Lean On Me). Overall, the visual aspects of the movie came together to make this a great movie to watch.
Another success for the film was the music. The score for this film was composed by eight-time Oscar nominee, James Newton Howard (Michael Clayton). This movie earned him the first of those eight nominations. His music works to accentuate the emotional current of the movie. The music seems to push the emotion up a notch throughout the most important moments of the story.
Overall, this is a strong story with a gritty baseline that works nicely. This might not be for everyone since it features some strong depictions of abuse. The movie is one that I would recommend to fans of any of the stars, as well as the author who wrote the novel. I would also suggest this for fans of family dramas, or powerful emotionally driven movies. I give this one 4.4 out of 5 stars.
Excellent review, may check this out.
Thanks. Make sure to let me know what you think.
The scene when Nolte lets us know what really happened to his character is a hard one to watch. However, it’s executed so well by him that it makes sense why he got nominated for an Oscar for this. Good review.
That scene is powerful. He has always managed to do wonderful work when the material is emotionally driven. Thanks for reading.