“Prince of Tides” Review
Acting was excellent. Costuming, sets were excellent. Plot, for the most part, was excellent. Movie stunk.
I know it’s an old movie, but I saw it for the first time last night. Nick Nolte plays a troubled father, Tom, avoiding dealing with traumatic childhood. When his sister attempts suicide, her psychiatrist Dr. Lowenstein (Barbara Streisand) wants to interview Nick to find out what makes sister tick.
That central plot was excellent. Nick’s got some real issues his sister is also dealing with, including a ruthless, unloving father, a manipulative mother, and a traumatic home invasion. Subplots of Lowenstein’s son, caught in a conflict between football and violin practice, Lowenstein’s ruthless husband, and Tom’s troubles sharing his feelings with his wife but not his daughters, are all excellent.
But you want to feel empathy for the main characters in a movie, but the movie spits up there. Lowenstein ends up sleeping with Tom (professional ethics of a psychiatrist sleeping with a patient aren’t even discussed). That’s ok with Tom, because Tom’s wife is sleeping with some motorcyclist. Lowenstein’s husband is sleeping with his pianist. The only other relationship ever shown is a gay neighbor. There wasn’t one example of any healthy relationships, but worse, when they portrayed the adulterous relationships, they were always shown as some beautiful, natural thing, especially if your spouse is already cheating. Then, on top of all the adultery going on, they take a potshot at God in the middle for no particular reason.
Eventually Tom goes back to his wife, which makes the psychiatrist miserable, but Tom decides that even though he’ll sleep with his wife, he’ll continue to love the psychiatrist. In other words, he ends up doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
This could have been an excellent movie with just a few tweaks. Tom and the psychiatrist could have drawn strength from each other without sleeping with each other, and the affair Tom’s wife had could have been eliminated completely. Just dealing with the issues of Tom’s past and how he works through forgiveness of himself and his mother and father would have been a powerful story in itself