The Prince of Tides is a 1991 American film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Pat Conroy. It tells the story of the narrator's struggle to overcome the psychological damage inflicted by his dysfunctional childhood in South Carolina. The film was created by producer/director Barbra Streisand from a screenplay by Conroy and Becky Johnston. The film was nominated for Best Picture but lost the award to The Silence of the Lambs.
Tom Wingo, an unemployed teacher and football coach, is asked by his mother, Lila, to travel to New York to help his twin sister's psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein, after his sister Savannah's latest suicide attempt. Despite hating New York City, Tom reluctantly accepts, but does so in large part to take the opportunity to be alone and away from a life that does not satisfy him.
During their initial meetings, Tom is reluctant to disclose many details of their dysfunctional family's secrets. In flashbacks, Tom relates incidents from his childhood to Susan, in hopes of discovering how to save Savannah's life. The Wingos were a family composed of an abusive father and an overly proud, status-hungry mother. The father was a shrimp boat operator and, despite being successful at that profession, spent all of his money on frivolous business pursuits, leaving the family in poverty.
Tom is also torn with his own problems, but hides behind what he calls "the Southern way", i.e. laughing about everything. For example, his wife is having an affair and her lover wants to marry her.
Tom and Lowenstein begin having feelings for each other. After Tom discovers that she is married to Herbert Woodruff, a famous concert violinist, Susan introduces Tom to her son Bernard, who is being groomed to become a musician as well, but who secretly wants to play football. Tom then starts coaching Bernard and attending sessions with Susan to help his sister.
Tom discovers that Savannah has been in such a dissociated state that she even had a different identity, Renata Halpern. (As Halpern, she wrote books to disguise the Savannah side of her troubled life.) Angered that Lowenstein did not reveal this information before, Tom confronts her and they get into a fight, during which she throws a dictionary at him. To apologize, she asks him to dinner and their relationship becomes closer.
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