A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
By directing one good film, you prove that you had a movie inside of you. By directing two, you prove you are a real director, and that is what Barbra Streisand proves with "The Prince of Tides," an assured and very serious love story that allows neither humor nor romance to get in the way of its deeper and darker subject.
The film stars Nick Nolte, in an Oscar-caliber performance, as an unemployed, aimless and miserably married football coach from the South, who ventures north into New York City after his twin sister, a poet, tries to commit suicide. This is not her first attempt, and as we learn more about the Nolte character, we begin to understand why he has special reason to care for her. They were both subjected to an unforgivable childhood.
In New York, Nolte meets his sister's psychiatrist (Streisand), who is also not happily married, and their conversations turn from the therapeutic to the personal, as both characters begin to sense that the other is lonely and cut off from ordinary human cheer. We are familiar with the general profile of such relationships from many other movies, but "The Prince of Tides" is not about anything so banal as the ways that opposites attract. It is about two people whose affection offers a cure for each other - if they have the courage.
Streisand has a son (Jason Gould) who is clumsy at sports, and Nolte agrees to throw a football around with him, getting to like the kid in the process. Streisand also has a husband (Jeroen Krabbe) who is a famous violinist and cruel snob, who gets one-upped by Nolte in a scene so funny and impeccably written that it is a crime, a violent crime against the cinema, that the surprise is spoiled in the movie's trailers and publicity clips.