By the Sea: Jolie Delivers Engaging, Intimate Drama with Latest Directorial Effort
Angelina JolieBrad Pitt
In 1 Cinema
Beneath its glossy exterior, there’s a surprisingly poignant and an alluring drama behind Angelina Jolie’s By the Sea; one that discusses the subjects of love, marriage and loss in the most unconventional of ways. Written off by many as a ‘vanity project’ for the third-time director, By the Sea – a movie which serves more as a 70’s European art-house production than a standardised Hollywood blockbuster – may disappoint those who expected a more mainstream affair. However, it may also serve as a pleasant surprise to those who actually give it a chance.
Written and directed by Jolie herself, the story is set in the early 70’s and it is centred on married American couple, novelist Roland (Pitt) and his former dancer wife, Vanessa (Jolie-Pitt), who have just driven down to a secluded cove in the South of France for a much-needed break and so that Roland can work on his new novel.
The unspoken tension and unhappiness between the couple is evident and while Roland spends his days battling against writer’s block and drinking his troubles away at a local bar owned by the amiable widower, Michel (Arestrup), Vanessa pops pills in their hotel room. It’s not until the arrival of a young newlywed couple, Lea (played by Inglorious Basterds’ Melanie Laurent) and her husband, Francois (Poupaud) that things begin to shift within their own declining marriage.
Slow, moody and painted with a glossy layer of glamour, By the Sea is not for everyone and despite its ambitious aspirations and cast, it’s a small and an intimate affair, which dives into the depths of marriage, portraying its dark side with elegance and visual panache. It’s a slow-burning drama which takes quite a few liberties with unspoken moments of nothingness – a feature which may not sit well with some viewers – however, even if it takes a few unnecessary turns, there is still plenty to like about the film.
Known as one of the most notorious and glamorous couple in Hollywood, it takes a bit of time to buy into their Jolie and Pitt’s on-screen characters and forget that you are watching two celebrities – and real-life married couple – at play. However, both actors are pretty convincing as two lovers drowning in resentment and most will find something that hits home in Jolie’s daring statement on love.