The Prince of Tides (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Prince of Tides (1991) is an excellent character driven drama/romance directed superbly by Barbara Streisand, where she again shows that she will do what it takes to bring a complex story to the screen without losing the complexity. 

 Nick Nolte, in a Golden Globe winning and Oscar nominated performance, plays a southern man in a stagnant marriage haunted by memories of his dysfunctional family, and beaten by the recent death of his brother. He is notified that his twin sister, a famous New York poet, has again attempted suicide, and he is sent to assist her shrink (Barbara  Streisand) with her recovery. Streisand specializes in disorders of the rich, and is in a loveless marriage with a famous violinist. She also has an obnoxious teen-aged son.


 Over the course of the film, we learn the dark family history that caused Nolte's sister to block out most of her memories and Nolte to be dominated by  negative feelings for his parents. While gathering information to assist her with the sister, Streisand also helps Nolte to remember, and finally to cope with, the trauma at the root of all of the problems. She also hires Nolte (a former football coach) to teach her son football, and help round out the spoiled and insecure violin prodigy. Along the way, Nolte and Streisand and Nolte fall in love. One of the many interesting sub-texts to the main story is the contrast between Nolte, who is a dysfunctional football coach from poor white trash southern roots, and affluent Jewish American Princess Streisand.

If nominations were awards, they would have had to build a trophy room for this film, but it was a strong year, with Silence of the Lambs emerging as the film Oscar gave everything to. Any nudity would have been from Streisand, and she wisely chose not to have any rather than to use a  double. Nudity would not have made the film any better anyway, especially since it is about emotions and memories, not actions. The film did receive some criticism for portraying an un-ethical affair between a psychiatrist and the married relative of a patient, but I am sure this could actually  happen, and didn't feel that the film made a moral judgment about the affair, although the affair did help everyone involved.

I will say  C+, as it won't appeal to action lovers, but is more of a genre (character driven drama/romance) piece, but it is one of the better ones.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • no meaningful features

Scoopy's notes. 

There seems to be no middle ground in attitudes toward Barbra Streisand. She has worshippers and she has detractors. Not many people in between. Tuna likes Barbra, and I don't, which is why I think he has underrated this movie.

You have to understand where I'm coming from. I hate the sight of this woman, the sound of her speaking voice. She can sing, but I don't like the style of music she generally performs. I pretty much hate everything she's ever done or been associated with. 

Despite that fact, I think that The Prince of Tides is terrific. I popped it in for the first time fully expecting to last about three minutes, and I found it to be a really engaging psychological mystery cum offbeat romance. I was also very impressed with the complexity of the performance she drew from Nick Nolte.

Given that fact, I think the correct score must be a B or higher. It is a movie you can enjoy even if you hate Barbara Streisand movies.  

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.3 
  • With their dollars ... it did very well, and grossed $75 million domestically. It has subsequently earned another $36 million in rentals.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. (Scoop says: a B or better)

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