A man struggling to come to terms with the sins of his father makes the terrible discovery that his own son has fallen into a life of crime in a drama based on a true story. Vincent LaMarca (Robert DeNiro) is a dedicated and well-respected New York City police detective who has gone to great lengths to distance himself from his past; four decades earlier, Vincent's father Angelo killed a young child, and since then Vincent has carried emotional scars from this incident that he refuses to show to the world. Vincent lives alone in a small apartment building, though he has nurtured a close if tentative relationship with his downstairs neighbor, Michelle (Frances McDormand). One day, Vincent and his partner, Reg Duffy (George Dzundza), are assigned to investigate a murder when the body of a young man is found dead in a dumpster. It turns out the body was that of a drug dealer, and the dealer's partner in crime, Spyder (William Forsythe), believes the killer was one of his regular customers -- a junkie would-be musician who calls himself Snake (Brian Tarantina). City By the Sea was adapted from a piece by journalist Mike McAlary which first appeared in Esquire magazine; the cast also includes Eliza Dushku and Anson Mount.