review for The Prince of Tides on AllMovie

The Prince of Tides (1991)
by Jason Clark review

The appeal of Barbra Streisand's tasteful but curiously lacking adaptation of Pat Conroy's best-selling novel will rest on how much you appreciate the star/director's indulgences (of which this film has plenty). Beautifully photographed and smoothly written, Tides is marred by the kind of grandstanding melodrama that feels phony in a film dealing with so many harsh topics. Nick Nolte's widely praised performance is energetic but fails to register the penultimate emotions that the novel sets up for its protagonist, and though Nolte can be quite powerful, his booming intensity can also overbear any given scene's ultimate message. Streisand additionally stretches believability as the story's resident psychiatrist, and when the film settles on the main characters' love affair in the second act, it falls apart due to the lack of fire between the principal actors. The supporting performers are all exceedingly well cast, however, with Kate Nelligan especially sharp as Nolte's long-suffering mother. In a major upset at the Academy Awards, Nolte (widely predicted to be the winner for Best Actor) was bested by Anthony Hopkins in his career-making role as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, despite the fact that Hopkins only appeared in about one-fourth of the film.