By the Sea

by | Nov 16, 2015 | 0 comments

A Good Progression from Jolie on the Director’s Path, but Still Not There

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are probably the most well known couple in Hollywood. They are both stellar actors, and recently Jolie has also started to direct feature films. In By the Sea, Pitt and Jolie are reunited as actors for the first time since Mr. and Mrs. Smith in 2005. Jolie also takes up directing duties, and while it’s a joy to watch both of the actors, the actual film doesn’t rise to their performances.

By the Sea is the story of a married couple in the 70s: Roland (Brad Pitt) and Vanessa (Angelina Jolie), who travel to a small village in the south of France in order for Roland, a writer, to find inspiration for a new novel. However, Roland and Vanessa’s marriage is at a complicated state and the trip is also in the hopes to fix such a marriage. At the hotel they bump into a couple of newlyweds: Lea (Melanie Laurent) and Francois (Melvil Poupaud). By comparing and contrasting themselves with the happy couple they explore the truths and lies of marriage.  

What I really appreciate is the progression of Jolie as a director. She had a solid, but cheesy film with Unbroken; in By the Sea, Jolie finds the subtlety and overall simplicity that she was missing. She really hands over the film to the actors, and really barely has any relevant dialogue; most of the talking is really just to build atmosphere. I also liked how the film really captured the peaceful feel of a small European town, and it also had an incredible amount of symbolism, but alas that is where the improvements of Jolie’s directing end. Having written the film as well, it was a tough multitasking job she took on, and the film starts out incredibly with a great artistic hand, but then the weight has the film descend into an odd and sex-filled middle act that seems to play on a loop. This odd redundancy slows the film down too much for the audience, so that you are checking your watch too often. And while I understand that this redundancy permits us to familiarize ourselves with the characters and their tics, the situations they are placed in are not only too sluggish, but they are too similar as well.

The acting is amazing; Joli and Pitt both do an amazing job. Certainly this film is more about what is not said, rather than what is, and the two actors spend much of their screen time interacting with each other in silence. It is needless to mention that they have incredible chemistry; much of it seems to be pure improvisation, adding a rare natural aroma to the characters. The film’s slow mid-point hurts the film’s quality, but not the actors themselves, they show an incredible amount of stamina and are one of the sole aspects that pulls the audience through.

The finale is satisfying, but along with the great acting, it’s not enough to hold the film fully aloft. The film does possess a really great soundtrack by George Yared, it certainly mixes well with the European feel. And it is also satisfying to see Jolie progress as a director; if she continues on this path it is needless to say that she will become a great director.  

  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 66% 66%

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What is your favorite Angelina Jolie Film? Let me know in the comments section.

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