Set in France during the mid-1970s, Vanessa, a former dancer, and her husband Roland, an American writer, travel the country together. They seem to be growing apart, but when they linger in one quiet, seaside town they begin to draw close to some of its more vibrant inhabitants, such as a local bar/café-keeper and a hotel owner. Written by
Director and writer Angelina Jolie about the period setting: "I chose to set By the Sea (2015) in the 1970s, not only because it is a colorful and alluring era, but because it removes many of the distractions of contemporary life and allows the focus to remain squarely on the emotions that the characters experience in their journey." See more »
During one of his drinking binges, Roland (Brad Pitt) knocks his shot glass off the counter, and clumsily wipes up the mess. During the following conversation with the bartender, the shot glass is missing, then reappears on the counter in front of Roland, then is missing again. See more »
You resist happiness.
Don't quote some book and try to analyze my life.
You don't resist happiness?
Are you trying to illustrate your point by making me unhappy?
See more »
The film opens with the early 1970's Universal Pictures logo. See more »
Greetings again from the darkness. As a devotee and lover of the cinematic art form, I tend to focus on the positive elements of films, and maintain a near reverent respect for filmmakers who engage in personal projects. Because of this, I typically avoid labels such as "bad" or "good" and instead focus on the experience. Unfortunately, this latest from writer/director Angelina Jolie (billed for the first time as Angelina Jolie Pitt) has delivered a prolonged experience of monotony and misery that can only be described as bad. Or awful. Or even beyond awful.
It's based in the mid-1970's and filmed on the island of Gozo in Malta. The setting is stunningly beautiful, and cinematographer Christian Berger captures the essence of this unique spot with naturalistic lighting and plenty of wide shots of the rocky beaches that provide the foundation for a classy and quaint inn run by Michel (Niels Arestrup, A Prophet). Roland (Brad Pitt) and Vanessa (Angelina Jolie) are the epitome of an unhappily married couple though they are stylishly dressed while driving their 1967 Citroen convertible.
He is a writer who doesn't write and she is a former dancer who doesn't dance. While he is not writing, Roland sucks down gin, beer and anything else Michel will serve him. Vanessa mostly hangs out in the room popping pills and watching a fisherman in a row boat. When they are together, they rarely speak except to ensure we viewers understand just how miserable they are with a lousy reason that isn't explained until late in the film. Mostly she bats her porn star fake eye lashes while he sports a porn star mustache.
A glimmer of hope emerges when a honeymooning couple takes the room next door. Lea (Melanie Laurent) and Francois (Melvil Poupaud) seem quite happy and enjoy spending time together in bed. We know this because Vanessa discovers a peephole where she can take in the sights. In what is probably the only interesting twist, Lea and Roland are soon sharing peeps a step that somehow begins the process of rebuilding their relationship. Of course, that doesn't happen without many more scenes of misery prior to the quite predictable finish.
Angelina is clearly paying tribute to the 1950's and 1960's French art-house films, but having two unlikable lead characters who can't stand to be in the same room never allows the viewers to connect though she seizes many opportunities to show off her exquisitely rebuilt breasts. The film is entirely too long and feels even longer as it squanders a real chance to explore the second stage of marriage. The beautiful scenery and Gainsbourg songs don't come close to making this a movie worth enduring.
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