The operative word in the phrase "based on a true story" is usually the first one. Real lives are always souped up for cinematic consumption, often to a astonishing degree, like the way former Long Beach, New York, cop Vincent LaMarca's has been for the film "City By the Sea."
LaMarca's true story is that his father was executed for the kidnapping, ransom and murder of a baby in the 1950s, yet he grew up to join the police force under the wing of one of his father's arresting officers. Then after he retired to Florida, his own estranged son was arrested and convicted of a ruthless murder.
But in this movie -- inspired by an article about the LaMarcas in Esquire magazine -- Vincent (played by Robert De Niro) is a Manhattan homicide detective whose most recent investigation leads him to his own drug-addled son Joey (James Franco), who accidentally killed a drug dealer in a brawl. A girlfriend (Frances McDormand) and a grandchild have been added to beef up the plot, and so has the murder of another cop by the drug dealer's boss, out to avenge himself on Joey.
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