The golden age of the “erotic thriller” genre was undoubtedly the '80s with the glossy ilk of such hits as FATAL ATTRACTION, NO WAY OUT, and the immortal BODY HEAT, but it became a joke in the '90s with such embarrassments as BASIC INSTINCT, BODY OF EVIDENCE, and well just about everything that has Joe Eszterhaus's name on it. My personal favorite of the genre was:
SEA OF LOVE (Dir. Harold Becker, 1988)
This was originally embraced as a return to form for Al Pacino after such forgetful fare as AUTHOR, AUTHOR and REVOLUTION in the first half of the '80s. It was indeed great to see him in a gritty sometimes even pathetic part as a hard drinking police detective dealing with divorce and obsessed with tracking a serial killer. The schlubby Pacino compares notes with partner John Goodman and they drunkenly decide to set up a sting operation through meetings with possible suspects made from personal ad connections.
Ellen Barkin's character is the outgoing as Hell is-she-a-vixen?-is-she-not? parable that the plot hinges on. A lot of this is predictable and at times can be awfully generic plotting, but the amount of well placed and well paced humor, good acting, and sharp dialogue makes this still in 2004 a good watch.
Also just about everyone in it is somebody you will surely know from something else: Samuel L. Jackson has a small part at the beginning, The West Wing actors John Spencer and Michael O'Neill, Six Feet Under's Richard Jenkins, and the always intensely creepy Michael Rooker from JFK and HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER all add to the must-see value of this mostly overlooked time-killer. Available on a Universal special edition DVD with Special Features including a commentary by director Becker and a few scratchy deleted scenes.