The Prince of Tides

Originally appeared on ‘the secret keeper’ on 10th January 2014.
Re-edited and Re-written for Expats Post

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Barbra Streisand as Director for ‘The Prince of Tides’

The Prince of Tides [1991] stars Barbra Streisand, Nick Nolte, Blythe Danner, and Kate Nelligan, plus George Carlin as the gay character who gives comic relief and lightens things up. Neighbor to Nick Nolte’s twin sister, Savannah. She starts out the film inside a hospital in serious condition after a suicide attempt.

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Nick Nolte as Tom Wingo in ‘The Prince of Tides’

There are certain scenes which can have a disturbing effect on many viewers. We are talking about VIOLENCE of the most disturbing kind and of a sexually brutal nature.

Rare! The Prince of Tides – Behind the Scenes

I viewed The Prince of Tides multiple times in a theatre. The totality of the film is so compelling, I needed to see it more than once. When it was first released, it fit closely to psychological issues I was studying at the time.

Prince of Tides (Interpreting)

There is an under story involving a huge secret. The entire film is intense and attracts your attention to the building of a relationship between the two lead characters of Dr. Lowenstein and Tom Wingo. For me, their relationship brings up complicated questions. One, he is married and Lowenstein is, also. That is less of a problem than the ethical issues involved with Lowenstein being his sister, Savannah’s psychiatrist.

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Barbra as Dr. Lowenstein with Tom Wingo [Nick Nolte]

But this is not what throws me, it is the questions, “Is she treating him or seeing him as a go-between for his sister and their family and a way for her to understand what is hidden. Or is she trying to uncover Tom’s secret as well, to get to his sister’s. Which brings up the question, “Is he technically her patient, also?”

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Lowenstein [Psychiatrist] behind her desk in ‘The Prince of Tides’

This is one of the dilemmas for me in The Prince of Tides. An excellent film to create many discussions in so many areas, including needing the darkness and shadows cleared.

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Tom Wingo [Football Teacher] in Lowenstein’s office in ‘The Prince of Tides’

It is a film that makes you think about trying to understand why life happens to you the way it does, with all its sudden surprises. The Prince of Tides is such a story. It is about two worlds and two families. Secrets kept in one and not understanding love in the other.

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Tom Wingo is Savannah’s Brother in ‘The Prince of Tides’

I highly recommend The Prince of Tides. Pat Conroy wrote the novel and adapted the screenplay with Becky Johnston. The acting is incredible. Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte fit perfectly together. Yet, we know he is married to Blythe Danner’s character. And he has daughters her loves. It is a struggle to route for anyone getting what they want or don’t want.

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Lowenstein and Tom dancing at party. Savannah’s friend, Eddie, played by George Carlin

What brings Tom to Dr. Lowenstein’s [Streisand] psychiatrist office? He is representing his family in a serious matter. His mother coerces him. Doesn’t believe she would be wanted.

Prince of Tides (Ethics)

What is revealed after Tom starts talking to Dr. Lowenstein is overwhelming at times when releasing his pain. His family’s life, when he was a child, had a great deal of manipulation and violence surrounding it.

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Tom and Lowenstein watching her husband [famous violinist] play

They jump between the flashbacks into Tom’s childhood and that of his siblings. Showing a brutal father and the questionable qualifications of their mother. In the present, you see Tom spend some time with his sister who attempted to commit suicide and not the first time. It is now time for talking to Dr. Lowenstein about his sister and the whole of the rest of his family, to sort out just what is so disturbing for Savannah.


Tom and Lowenstein watching her son [Tom is coaching him in football] a violinist, also

Another layer develops between Lowenstein and Tom. They spend time together outside of her office. Technically, he is not her patient, his sister is. But things begin to get personal between the Doctor and Savannah’s brother Tom


Tom with Lowenstein’s son Bernard [played by Jason Gould, Barbra and Eliot Gould’s real son]

He meets her really irritating son, Bernard. That is how he comes across at first. And then there is her arrogant, famous, violinist husband, who goes outside the barriers of rude to be a pompous, rich, elitist. Hairs get raised between Tom and Lowenstein’s husband. A violin comes between them. Lowenstein leaves. Tom follows. My reaction to the relationship between Tom and Lowenstein, at first viewing, felt like lines were being crossed. I am not certain any longer that this is what I believe.

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Lowenstein holding Tom in ‘The Prince of Tides’

The film is about family, class, infidelity, a pain in the ass spouse, a misunderstood son, a nightmare that gets “buried.” Trauma everywhere in Tom and Savannah Wingo’s lives.

Prince of Tides (Affective)

The Prince of Tides is emotionally charged with love and violence at their heights.

Be Warned, it is an Intense Film with traumatic scenes some may be disturbed by watching.

A note for the film, The Prince of Tides is the title of a book of poetry written by Savannah and dedicated to Tom. In the book this was different. It was a book Savannah wrote for their brother Luke. It was changed greatly in the screenplay. The central story switched from Luke Wingo, Tom & Savannah’s brother, being hunted and killed by government agents, to the love story between Tom and Lowenstein. I am drawn to the romance. Luke’s story is told in the book. Tom & Savannah’s story is told in the film in a deeply moving way.

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‘The Prince of Tides’ Lowenstein in bed with Tom both naked at her get-a-way home

It is as great a film today, as it was the opening night in the theatres. Barbra Streisand did a fabulous job playing the role of Dr. Lowenstein and she was excellent as the Director of The Prince of Tides. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but lost the award to The Silence of the Lambs.

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Tom and Lowenstein at her cottage in the woods in ‘The Prince of Tides’

The Prince of Tides – Trailer [1991]


Nick Nolte as Tom Wingo

Barbra Streisand as Dr. Susan Lowenstein

Blythe Danner as Sallie Wingo [Tom Wingo’s wife]

Kate Nelligan as Lila Wingo Newbury [Tom & Savannah’s mother & Luke’s mother]

Jeroen Krabbé as Herbert Woodruff [Lowenstein’s husband-the famous violinist]

Melinda Dillon as Savannah Wingo [Tom’s twin sister]

George Carlin as Eddie Detreville [Savannah’s gay neighbor]

Jason Gould as Bernard Woodruff [Lowenstein’s son and Streisand’s real life son with Elliott Gould

*       *       *       *       *       *       *

I dedicate this film review to Philip Seymour Hoffman
He Was The Prince Of Tides
An Acting Genius With Amazing Versatility
The Actor For All Generations
He Played His Characters Brilliantly
It Is Sad His Time Here Has Been Measured Short

Philip Seymour Hoffman You Are And Will Be Greatly Missed

Philip Seymour Hoffman  R.I.P. 23rd July 1967 - 2nd February 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman
23rd July 1967 – 2nd February 2014

“When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”
— William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

“If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to
change costume and come back as a new character
…Would you slow down? Or speed up?”
— Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman July 23rd 1967 – February 2nd 2014

*       *       *       *       *       *       *

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The Prince of Tides, 10.0 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

About the Author:

Words. Ideas. Visions. Sounds. Abstractions. Attract the Writer. Poet. Artist Inside of Me. Seeking Out the Unknown & Infinite Possibilities & Impossibilities. Living My Life Filled with Imagination & Creativity. Zen – j.kiley
  • This was an insightful review of a really good film, Jennifer. Your tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman was especially touching. The quotes you used befitted the man and the terrible loss we feel. Beautifully done.

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  • Thank you, Cher. I decided suddenly to do ‘The Prince of Tides.’ It was always my intention of posting it but last night I was moved to do it. After I was finished, an overwhelming feeling flooded me, I needed to add something for Philip Seymour Hoffman. The tribute came to me as I was putting it together. After I was done, I went to sleep a short while after. It finally hit me he was dead and I cried. Today, I find out he has been on a heroin bender for 6 weeks. I know one is responsible for their own actions but where were the ‘friends’ who knew this was happening? Where were the interventions? It angers me no one stopped or helped him to become safe. I thank you for reading my review. ‘The Prince of Tides’ is an extremely powerful experience. It was good to see it again, even if it has some disturbing subject matter. Thank you, Cher.

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  • Thank you

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  • You are Welcome John.

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